Spanish Conquistadors, Nueva Espana, Food, Indigenous Food


Upon Arrival in Veracruz, Mexico in 1520, the conquistadors were exposed to the sights, sounds, and tastes of the New World. In Cuba they had subsisted on a mostly European diet, but in Mexico they would have to learn to make do with indigenous foods. Their leader, Hernan Cortes, ordered the ships burned to prevent deserters, destroying any hope they had of receiving supplies of European foods during their conquest of what would later become known as Nueva Espana. This left them highly dependent on either their own ability to properly identify food sources or, as was usually the case, provisions given to them by indigenous groups. One such food offeng provides insight into indigenous perceptions of indigenous food. According to Francisco Hernandez, after a day of warfare with the conquistadors, the Tlascalans (one of the indigenous groups that inhabited central Mexico) sent a group of forty servants to the Spaniards with supplies of fowl, bread, fruit, slaves and incense "so that if [Cortes] was, as they had heard, a fearsome god, he could feed on the slaves, if a benevolent one he would be content with the incense, and if he was human and mortal he would use the fowl, fruit and cakes that had been prepared for him."