It is believed that maize has grown wild for 12,000 years. However with the passage of time maize the technique to plant, harvest, grind and cook maize evolved. Until the maize was tamed 5,000 years ago.
The technique of working with the maize evolved to such a degree that it not only became Mexican food’s basic ingredient, it became a lifestyle (just like the beans and the chile).
The maize was the bread of the indigenous presented in the form of tortillas, it was also the main course when maize was presented in the form of tamal, moreover it was also the beverage when it was presented in the form of atole.
...there are some beautiful legends surrounding maize and the origin of life.
The Nahuas knew the maize as “atzintzintil" meaning grain of ant. Its legend says that man discovered the maize when they saw an ant taking some grains to the anthill. The grains that the ant was carrying were small and they were not beans nor wheat – they were Maize Grains. That’s how man discovered maize and it was domesticated.
In the Popol Vuh (Mayan book) a legend is also told about the creation of man and maize. The legend says that the gods created man from clay but when it was piled up it fell. Due to the failure they had to get rid of it.
Then the gods tried to create man from wood but it was nothing but a mannequin with no animation, so they had to destroy it.
So the gods tried to create man with maize, it entered the body to mixed with the blood and organs giving them strength and life.
⊰ The Mexicas called the maize “tecintle" meaning food of the gods.
⊰ The Mayans called the maize “ixim".
⊰ The Toltecas claimed that they were the ones that found the maize in Tamoanchan (the Mexican Huasteca) and they named it “puxpuch".
Maize was introduced to the Europeans almost the same day that Christopher Columbus set a foot on America. Two of his sailors got off the ship and returned with a handful of maize. The Spaniards used to say that the indigenous only talk about the maize.
Maize’s fame and importance transcended borders by becoming one of the 3 most important gramineous in the world: wheat, rice and maize.
Maize has even entered the cinemas in the form of popcorn. Now even whiskey is made by fermenting maize.