Culture is what remains when one has forgotten everything. If in Costa Rica we can speak of an ancestral culture, it is undoubtedly that of corn. Although we have already forgotten many of our best traditions, we must remember and conserve something proper and essential: we are children of the corn.
For this reason, and the same as we did earlier with the cart, the oxherd or with calypso music, we now urge from the Ministry of Culture and Youth to declare corn, and all it represents, as natural and cultural heritage of Costa Rica-Zea mays- as well as its traditions and agricultural practices.
There are many reasons to support this declaration, one of which is the inseparable link between culture and cultivation, that work of man that makes the land produce.
In the majority of indigenous cultures of our territory, such as the Bribrís and the Cabécares, their worldview was based on corn. These peoples were considered to be created by the god Sibú, from seed corn, and its various colors determined membership of the various clans or “races”.
The cultivation of corn in our country is ancient. They have found seeds and charred cobs in Tronadora Vieja, now Arenal Lagoon, from 2,000 BC, as well as ceramics that record agricultural practices to that date. There is also historical evidence demonstrating the presence of corn in Costa Rica – from corn pollen found in lake sediments, as in the Laguna Martinez, Guanacaste, which scientists consider date back to 3000 BC.
Further South American corn origins are also found in the Central Caribbean- archaeological site Severo Ledesma, near Guácimo-which suggests that our country functioned as a meeting place between different peoples of the continent that had in common the cultivation of different varieties of this plant. These varieties were a particular feature of each village that differed from each other, which could be associated with the emergence of chiefdoms, but this was in a period closer to possibly 300 BC. And also, changes in customs have been discovered, workers who left farming for service positions in coordination and control jobs.
In all historical periods, corn was essential in the popular diet, like atoles, tortillas, mixed with meats and even fermented drinks like chicha.
The symbolic metates, true works of pre-Hispanic art, were created to grind corn, direct inheritance that our grandmothers received and used after the Spanish conquest, a custom that continues to this day.
The cultivation and consumption of corn throughout the country is evident, with the Mesoamerican section of the country that has the most varieties. And it is in this region where we can appreciate a typical and abundant cuisine based on this grain, between drinks and meals, like pozole, tamales, Pisque, tortillas, biscuits, rosquillas, tanelas, marquesotes, topotoste, atol, pinolillo, chicheme and chorreadas .
We must concentrate on a model of development that has the foundation of our best traditions, including, as a central reference point, the corn. We build the future knowing and defending our past.
We proudly assume our rich heritage of the children of the corn, “men of corn” as named by Guatemalan laureate novelist Miguel Angel Asturias.
Source: Voice of Nosara by Manuel Lopez Obregon, Minister of Culture and Youth