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  • Aztec cuisine

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    Aztec men sharing a meal. Florentine Codex, late 16th century.Aztec cuisine is the cuisine of the former Aztec Empire and the Nahua peoples of the Valley of Mexico prior to European contact in 1519. The most important staple was corn (maize), a crop that was so important to Aztec society that it played a central part in their mythology. Just like wheat in much of Europe or rice in most of East Asia, it was the food without which a meal was not a meal. It came in varieties that differed in color, texture, size and prestige, and was eaten as corn tortillas, tamales or ātōlli, maize gruel. The other constants of Aztec food were salt and chili peppers and the basic definition of Aztec fasting was to abstain from these two flavors. The other major foods were beans and New World varieties of the grains amaranth (or pigweed), and chia. The combination of maize and these basic foods would have provided the average Aztec a very well-rounded diet without any significant deficiencies in vitamins or minerals. The cooking of maize grains in alkaline solutions, a process called nixtamalization, significantly raised the nutritional value of the common staple. Water, maize gruels and pulque (iztāc octli), the fermented juice of the century plant (maguey in Spanish), were the most common drinks, and there were many different fermented alcoholic beverages made from honey, cacti and various fruits. The elite took pride in not drinking pulque, a drink of commoners, and preferred drinks made from cacao, among the most prestigious luxuries available. Favored by rulers, warriors and nobles, they were flavored with chili peppers, honey and a seemingly endless list of spices and herbs. The Aztec diet included a variety of fish and wild game: various fowl, pocket gophers, green iguanas, axolotls (a type of water salamander), a type of crayfish called an acocil, and a great variety of insects, larvae and insect eggs. They also domesticated turkeys, duck and dogs as food and at times ate meat from larger wild animals such as deer, but none of these were a major part of their diet. They ate various mushrooms and fungi, including the parasitic corn smut, which grows on ears of corn. Squash (also known as Cucurbita) was very popular and came in many different varieties. Squash seeds, fresh, dried or roasted, were especially popular. Tomatoes, though different from the varieties common today, were often mixed with chili in sauces or as filling for tamales. Eating in Aztec culture could take on a sacred meaning, especially as evidenced in ritual cannibalism. The act of eating another human was deeply connected to the Aztec mythology, in which gods needed to consume the sacrificed flesh and blood of humans to sustain themselves, and the world. One way to look at this is that since human flesh was a food of the gods, it was sacred, and consuming sacred food could sanctify an individual and bring him or her closer to the gods. Further, certain warriors, in their afterlife, were believed to have been turned into butterflies and hummingbirds with the ability to fly back to the realm of the living to feed on nectar. From this, the importance the Aztecs ascribed to the act of eating is clear.

  • Arabic tea

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    Arabic teapot in MoroccoArabic tea (, ) Is a variety of hot teas popular throughout the Arab world. It is commonly served to guests and business partners at meetings and social events, and has been drunk by Arab people for centuries. It is considered to be a healthy drink largely because boiling water kills of most of the bacteria and viruses that would otherwise cause sickness, and some claim that they offer additional medicinal advantages.

  • Cinnamon challenge

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    The cinnamon challenge involves consuming one spoonful of powdered cinnamon. The cinnamon challenge was a viral internet food challenge. The objective of the challenge is to film oneself eating a spoonful of ground cinnamon in under 60 seconds without drinking anything, then upload the video to the Internet. The challenge is difficult and carries substantial health risks because the cinnamon coats and dries the mouth and throat, resulting in coughing, gagging, vomiting and inhaling of cinnamon, leading to throat irritation, breathing difficulties, and risk of pneumonia or a collapsed lung. The challenge has been described online since 2001, and increased in popularity in 2007, peaking abruptly in January 2014 and falling off almost as sharply through the first half of that year, then tapering off almost to its previous level by 2014. By 2010, many people had posted videos of themselves attempting this challenge on YouTube and other social networking websites. The cinnamon challenge continues to be active, with Twitter mentions peaking at nearly 70,000 per day in January 2012.

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