Francisco Cervantes de Salazar (c. 1500-75) prepared a book of dialogues about life in ancient Mexico which he
used in his teachings of Latin.
Those Indian men and women sitting there--what wares are they selling? Most of them seem cheap and of very little
What the earth brings forth; aji [chilli], beans, guavas, mameyes, zapotes, camotes, jicamas, cacomites, mesquites, tunas,
jilotes, xocotes, and other fruits of this nature.
I have never heard of such names or seen such fruits! What drinks are those in the large earthenware jars?
Atole, chia, Zotol, made of certain ground seeds.
As ours to them.
What is the dark liquid with which their limbs are smeared, as with pitch, so that they are made blacker than the Ethiopians?
And also that filthy clay, clay-like stuff with which their heads are daubed and incrusted? Explain why they do this.
The Indians call the liquid Ogitl, and they use it as a protection against cold and the itch. In their
tongue, the clay is called either zoquitl or quahtepuztli. It is useful for dyeing hair very black,
as well as for killing lice.
Medicaments indeed unknown to Hippocrates, Avicena, Dioscorides, and Galen. I notice, too, quite a large supply
of worms for sale. For what purpose? I am moved to laughter.
They are aquatic and are brought from the marsh. The Indians call them Oquilin, and they themselves eat
them and feed them to their little sparrows.
Strange things you tell. Who would ever believe that worms are food for men, since men, when dead, are food for
FRANCISCO CERVANTES DE SALAZAR
LIFE IN THE IMPERIAL AND LOYAL CITY OF MEXICO IN NEW SPAIN,
TRANS. MINNIE LEE BARRETT SHEPARD,
PUB. UNI. of TEXAS PRESS,