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Ancient Aztecs by Karen Latchana Kenney

By Karen Latchana Kenney

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The main staple in the Aztec diet was maize, used to make tortillas and tamales. The Aztecs developed many different tamale recipes with various kinds of fillings, showing the sophistication of their cuisine. Popcorn was also an important part of the diet. The Florentine Codex lists many Aztec recipes. The Aztecs raised only a few kinds of animals for food, including turkey, duck, and dogs, along with bees for honey, so vegetables and fruits made up the bulk of the commoners’ diet. Meat and fish were reserved for the nobility.

FAMILY LIFE Aztecs married in their late teens or early twenties. Matchmakers and parents arranged the marriages between young men and women. Nobles often married to create alliances or for profit. The bride was ceremonially bathed and covered with red feathers; her face was painted in glittering crushed pyrite, a gold-colored mineral. Four days of feasting followed the marriage ceremony, and elders counseled the bride and groom. Once married, the husband and wife had clearly defined roles. The man was the head of the family, but women were regarded as equals.

The second section lists the tributes given to the capital from more than 400 towns. The third section recorded Aztec life. One page of the codex, right, shows how spies were used to gather information about an enemy city. The spies are at the top of the page, shown visiting all parts of the city. The middle shows the Aztec official with a shield and arrows behind him. He is speaking with the people he will later defeat in battle. indd 42 10/28/14 1:33 PM Tlacatécatl, Tlacochcálcatl, Huiznáhuatl, and Ticocyhuácatl.

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