These historical accounts are from the ancient Aztec Empire, before the arrival of any Europeans, and are about a long-simmering feud and near apocalyptic war in ancient Mexico.
The Great Feast
Aztec emperor Chimichongatl had a great feast to which he had invited all the tribes from around Lake Texcoco and beyond. The guests included emperors and other dignitaries from tribes such as the Pochtecas, the Nacholocotes, Tlatelolcos and assorted others.
Elaborate arrays of food were served to the guests and the occasion was joyous and peaceful until Emperor Chimichongatl clapped his hands for tortillas.
“Bring on the corn tortillas!” he shouted to the dancing Azteca tortilla maids.
There arose a great murmur in the hall, as the Pochtecas and the Nacholocotes buzzed with disbelief. It was the Pochteca emperor Huitzhilipocho who stood up and began to denounce the yellow disks of maize.
“In my temple, we only serve tortillas of FLOUR! This is an insult!” bellowed the stocky emperor.
“Simon! Flour is the best- anything less is not fit for a chihuahua!” the emperor of the Nacholocotes, Jalapenichito, shouted in agreement.
The Aztec leader was horrified at such opposition to his beloved corn treats and the spectacle of two leaders from lesser tribes openly opposing his authority surely put him in a precarious position.
“You will eat corn and you like it!” Chimichongatl responded to the dissenting chiefs.
Plans of War Begin
The two leaders rose from the table and stormed out of the temple. As the small group of dignitaries made their way out of the magnificent city of Tenochtitlan, rumors of their actions toward the highly respected Aztec jefe followed them like wildfire. The Aztec citizens became enraged and pelted the fleeing indios with hardened corn tortillas which they chucked like frisbees, until the shrieking politicos were chased from the city.
For the following seven days the droning sound of the war drums could be heard through the valley of Mexico as the combined forces of the Pochteca and Nacholocotes prepared for war with the Aztecs. They enlisted the help of other smaller tribes including the menacing Chachalacas, who all shared the Pochteca’s preference for flour tortillas.
Quetzaldilla — The Mystical Advisor
On the morning of the seventh day, the battle was to begin. The opposing armies gathered in the Masa Meadow and were waiting for the order to attack. Just as they were to receive their command, the morning sky began to darken and rumble as if the gods were angry.
The armies immediately cleared the meadow, and in the middle remained a lone figure with his hands outstretched to the skies. It was Quetzaldilla, the reclusive old curandero who lived alone in the mountains and was thought to have magical powers. He was a mystical advisor to all tribes in the valley.
Corn or Flour,
I have the Power,
Corn and Flour,
Give them a shower!”
intoned the wrinkled old mystic.
Shower of Tortillas Ends the Feud
Upon this command, the skies opened up and a torrent of tortillas, corn, and flour, rained down onto the bewildered combatants. The opposing emperors approached the brujo and begged of him to stop the tortilla tornado. Quetzaldilla produced a peace treaty and promised to halt the tortilla storm if both agreed to end aggression and accept both flour and corn tortillas as equals.
“Keep your petty squabbles and bickering to private secret meetings of tortilla sects, corn or flour. This is my incantation!” ordered Quetzaldilla.
The Moral of the Story
Needless to say, the Indios agreed and feasted that night in the Great Temple at Tenochtitlan in brotherly fashion, where the servers cautiously asked the diners, as is the custom in most Mexican restaurants to this day, “Would you prefer corn or flour tortillas?”