The expression of amazement on a child’s face when they receive a pleasant surprise or discover something new for the first time, reflect the purity of his heart that overflows with joy; the innocence of his thoughts and the love that surrounds them.
It is said that “In childhood everybody lives better”. Perhaps because when we were children, we do not have major responsibilities. No debts are acquired. We find it easier to believe what we are taught. We intensely enjoy everything that happens around us without worrying about what will happen the next day. Oh, maybe because in childhood there is usually no such thing as greed, distrust, envy, selfishness, or discrimination. In childhood, life is simply lived as it is, without expecting anything different, only with the conviction of being happy with what we have around us.
Perhaps that is why the memories of our childhood turn out to be the best. Since, in most cases, we spend time daily with our parents, our brothers and our friends.
During elementary school, when I was in first grade, my favorite book was the Popol Vuh. Usually when I left school I would run through the coffee plantations, which were on the way to where I lived. There, under the shade of a coffee bush, I would sit on the ground to read the fascinating stories that were told in that forbidden book at that time, (I still don’t know if it was forbidden for everyone or just for me). However, I appreciated it as an immeasurable treasure that could only be read secretly when I was alone; away from the disturbing gazes of all those who objected to me immersing myself within its pages.
I don’t know how many times I read it, but when I finished reading it, I started reading it again. In my innocence I came to believe that the corn plants were sacred because they had literally been used to create the bodies of human beings. Although, I must clarify that my intention is not to contradict any religious belief since corn is considered a sacred food that has been provided by the gods. And even with my age, sometimes I say, “I AM A MAN OF CORN” which means that my ancestral roots are of MAYA origin.
In my country, Guatemala, corn is grown, harvested, and consumed in large quantities. In some geographical areas, it is customary to make corn dough porridge to feed babies out of necessity or by custom. Guatemalans consume corn daily in some of its forms. Eating corn tortillas is the most common. I can also mention chuchitos, fried tacos made with corn dough, tamales, empanadas stuffed with potatoes, corn atol, tascales, pupusas and many more products made with corn. I know that there will be many people in other countries who do not know about these products made with corn but suffice it to say that they are all delicious to taste.
Corn has also become a very important source of income for many low-income families who sell it and prepare it in various ways. I assure to all of you that there is nothing more fascinating and delicious than eating corn, freshly cut from the plant and slow roasted over the coals, seasoned only with salt and lemon during a rainy afternoon or a cold winter day. Letting yourself be intoxicated by the exquisite aroma that arises when the lemon touches the corn.
Or to experience the uncontrollable ecstasy of gluttony when you can’t stop eating freshly made tascales covered in fresh cheese and cow’s milk cream dissolving inside your mouth, leaving you with a sensation of pleasure that only perfectly seasoned corn can produce.
If you have ever had the privilege of making your own cornbread. You will know how appetizing and alienating the smell of corn can be when it is cooked in all its forms.
The Popol Vuh, or forbidden book, teaches us the importance of corn. As a child, I learned to respect and value the fruits of the earth. Therefore, I learned to respect and value those who cultivate and harvest them with their hard work.
If all of us could learn to see life as if we were children without losing the perspective that we are adolescents or adults, we would naturally accept all our assignments and enjoy the time we spend doing them. We would also give it the real value implicit in all the fruits of the earth, respecting and valuing all those people who live their lives producing them. I wanted to write a little about corn because it is a fundamental part of the lives of many people around the world, and it is a part of the stories of my land.
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