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Metate, a historical instrument for tortillas in Mexico

The name metate comes from the Nahuatl word metetl, which means "grinding stone".

It consists of a stone, almost always rectangular, which is used to grind corn and cocoa, among other vegetables that serve as food. The metate is accompanied by the "metlapilli", meaning "metate hand", which is a cylindrical stone used for grinding. It is made of low porosity volcanic stone, although there are also some that are made from baked clay or granite stone. It repeats a lot of grinding.


It emerged in pre-Hispanic times and was used by different cultures, which were in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras. This instrument was very important for the global economy because before and after the conquest it was already the main means to obtain flours, sauces, dyes and other substances. In the past, it was one of the most expensive items in the home, so it was adorned with engravings to identify it, and it was common for it to be part of the matrimonial dowry.


The metate is currently used as an instrument to grind grains and spices, especially to prepare various moles and the dough for tortillas. Due to the modernization and incorporation of electricity, the metate is no longer widely used.


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