¡Mazamorra caliente para las viejas sin dientes!
“Hot mazamorra for toothless ladies” was how freedwomen and slaves advertised their dessert for sale in the street at the top of their voices. Or, at any rate, this is the romanticized image we had at school of how these women in wide skirts and a white kerchief covering their hair tried to attract customers.
This was part of almost every pageant we did at school to mark Independence Day or any other national holiday. The scene was more or less the same: a reenactment of the country’s emancipation from Spain in 1810 or that of the declaration of Independence in 1816.
Every social sector was represented: from the rich gentry and merchants to street vendors and soon-to-be-freed slaves. The street vendors were, traditionally, the mazamorra and empanada sellers and chandlers. As a child, mazamorra always intrigued me as we never ate it at home. As children do, I created my own, albeit vague, idea of what it was. I knew it was something sweet and made with white corn and that was that.
Cut to the present. I was recently trying to clean out the pantry before a longish trip when I came across a bag of white hominy, some of which I had used to make locro. There was a recipe on the back: white hominy pudding. It was none other than the mysterious mazamorra of school pageants and history books. I decided to make it so I could finally taste it.
Mazamorra is quite popular in Latin America and its ingredients vary from one country to the other. In Argentina, we make it with white corn, milk, sugar and maybe a cinnamon stick or lemon rind. A very simple yet somewhat labour-intensive dessert. It is very filling and warming, ideal for a winter’s evening.
1/2 pound dry white corn (hominy)
2 litres milk
Soak the corn overnight. Drain and rinse. Place in a large pot and cover with water. Boil until the water starts to evaporate and add the milk, sugar and lemon or cinnamon. Bring to a boil and simmer until the corn is soft and the mixture thickens. If liquid evaporates quickly, add boiling milk. Remove the rind or stick and serve warm.