D-1: competition, with Aztec cuisine!


So, in order to celebrate the impending release of Master of the House of Darts (small reminder: you can see the trailer here), I’m holding a little competition.

Prizes are as follows:

1st prize: your choice of EITHER:
-a glyph artwork (it’s from Guatemala I think), which will look fabulous with a frame and hung upon your wall, a signed copy of Writers of the Future XXIII, which has the very first Acatl short story with the original Marcus Collins artwork, and a signed copy of Master of the House of Darts.


-a signed copy of Writers of the Future, a signed copy of Master of the House of Darts as above, and a tuckerisation. I will put a character with your name (adapted for correct ethnicity if the story requires it), and a few telling details in the next work I tackle. I’m hoping it’s Unclean Spirits, the Foreign Ghosts sequel, but if the series doesn’t sell and I never end up writing the sequel within a reasonable amount of time, I’ll shift it to an appropriate novelette. In addition, you will also get a sneak peek at the Vietnamese space station novella.

2nd prize: whichever of the two prizes above the 1st place winner doesn’t choose.

3rd prize: your choice of signed book, either Writers of the Future, Servant of the Underworld, or Harbinger of the Storm.

The rules are as follows: I will put everyone’s names in a hat, and draw at random. Your name gets put in the hat as many times as you have points. Get points in the following manner (they’re all cumulative, so you can do several of those things at the same time):

1. 4 points for creating and posting your favourite Aztec-inspired dish (a few hints here, and you can also google “Aztec food” for plenty of other websites. Basic staples include maize, cactus, turkey, various spices and chillies, and cacao beans). I will NOT judge how authentic the recipe is, or even check to see that it’s eatable, but mainly how creative you are!
(however, do not try to sell me a hamburger as your favourite Aztec food…)
ETA: sorry, wasn’t clear. Post the Aztec dishes in the comments of this post or its LJ mirror.
2. 2 points for telling me, in the comments, your favourite character in the Obsidian and Blood books, and why. There’s a handy list of characters here if you’ve forgotten their names (which can always happen with Nahuatl tongue-twisters…)
3. 1 point for simply commenting, either on this blog post or on the LJ mirror
4. 1 point per repost of this on FB, LJ, Twitter, etc. (comment with a link to the post(s)/RT and I’ll credit you).

ETA: sorry, my brain went on holiday… You have until next Tuesday (Nov. 1st) to enter.

This is open to anyone, wherever you are in the world–so get cooking and reposting 🙂


  1. “Nopal (oputia ficus-indica) is an edible cactus that was consumed throughout Mesoamerica. The tender cactus pads make an easy and quick meal, as they can be harvested and eaten raw or cooked. Nopal was also prized because it is associated with cochineal, an insect that is used as a natural red dye.

    Nopal has gained a reputation internationally as it seems to ease the effects of diabetes. Studies have shown that eating nopal can reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels.”

    Now we have this here, and though people don’t eat it often, they do eat the fruit.

    Tunos Indios, they call them. My partner used them to keep himself alive while his liver was failing. He ate over ten a day for two years when his prognosis was a just a few months. Can’t argue with that. I was the sucker who had to pick ’em.

    To make one scrumptious prickly pear smoothie, dress head to foot in an asbestos suit. Pick pears.

    I invented a pear picker, like 3 ft long wooden tongs, which protected me from the worst. Each pear is covered with fine brittle hairs, that will jump into your flesh and burrow straight for your heart. Put the pears into a strong PAPER bag as you pick ’em, not plastic, as the hairs poke through and when the bag brushes your leg, you end up having to throw your trousers away ASAP. And spend the rest of the day with tweezers and a painful rash.

    Tip your pears out onto a layer of fine volcanic ash (sand or gravel, too) and using a household broom, sweep the buggers until they are smooth and shiny and the hairs have all blown away. Sweep ’em to the left, sweep ’em to the right. Don’t bash them, just brush them over the ground.

    Peel ’em and press them through a sieve. Here you find that you missed almost every hair and they have all migrated to your fingertips. Keep tweezers handy. Tunos Indios are full of indigestible seeds that apparently give you constipation. Chuck ’em. If you are brave enough to pick, brush, peel and eat one in the countryside, you can spray the seeds out of your mouth, like a lovely blood red fountain full of broken teeth. 🙂

    You end up with a glass of the deepest red juice you can imagine. As deep as beetroot juice, but thick and gloopy. It looks a lot like blood, and freakily, it congeals like blood, too. If you leave it more than ten minutes in the glass, it goes even more stringy and gloopy. And VERY red.

    It tastes like… blackcurrants, I think are the closest. A sharp, sweet taste, that is quite nice, if you can forget you are slurping a thick, gelid, deep red glass of life essence. 🙂

    If that isn’t authentic Aztec enough, you could always just make up some hot chocolate and shove some cinnamon in it. (Sorry. 😉 )

  2. Wow, Damon – a thick, gelid and deep red drink – awesome!!

    My Aztec-inspired dish is Chicken Mixiotes. The Aztecs would have used turkey, or perhaps rabbit or wild dog. These are bundles of meat and spices – the Aztecs would have used leaves from the maguey plant, but you can use parchment paper. The other substitution is to use fennel instead of avocado leaf since many groceries don’t stock dried avocado leaves(which are slightly anisey in flavor). Adding onion and garlic moves this to an adaption of an Aztec dish, as those were most likely not used in Aztec cooking.

    Three maguey leaves (mixiote), cut in half to make six pieces, or six 12×15 pieces of parchment paper
    6 boneless chicken breasts, halved or cut in chunks.
    1 cup fresh orange juice, from bitter oranges – naranja mateca. (If using sweet oranges, use 3/4 cup juice and 1/4 cup lime juice) I think the Aztecs probably used lime, not bitter orange since that came to Mexico most likely from Spain, but I’m not sure about that. It will help tenderize the meat.
    2 ounces achiote paste (a seasoning made from the seeds of the annatto tree)
    4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
    1/4 teaspoon each: dried marjoram, dried thyme, and dried oregano
    6 ancho chiles, seeded and stemmed (ancho is a dried poblano chile, mild)
    6 guajillo chiles, seeded and stemmed (ok to use dried if you can’t find fresh – slightly hotter than poblano)
    3 1/2 cups water
    1 medium onion, chopped
    1 medium tomato, chopped
    8 small new potatoes, cut in 1″ cubes and blanch (boil for 5 – 10 mins…slightly tender, not soft)
    6 avocado leaves (Substitute – small slice from a fennel bulb – one per bundle)

    Whip in blender – orange juice, achiote, garlic, spices. Marinate chicken pieces in this.

    Simmer chilies in 3.5 cups water, then blend with onion and tomato. Salt to taste, strain back into pan and reduce sauce by half (10 – 15 mins simmer)

    Lay out parchment paper. Place one slice fennel and one marinated chicken breast in the middle, add a handful of blanched potatoes and two – three spoonfuls of sauce. Fold the parchment paper into a tight packet – see here for picture instructions using a heart shape (you can also fold the square up if you want):
    Bake at 425 for 15-20 minutes, open one to check if done, rebake if not. (Depends on thickness of chicken, can take up to 30 minutes)
    Place mixiote in bowl and cut top open (hot!), pour into bowl. Serve with avocado and corn tortillas

    From http://www.aztec-history.com/aztec-food.html

    Maize (Corn) was the staple, Aztec food also included beans and squash. Of course, maize and beans are still a cornerstone of the Mexican diet, a healthy combination especially if you’re not eating a lot of meat.

    To add to these three, the Mexicas (people of the Aztec Empire) ate chillies, tomatoes, limes, cashews, potatoes, sweet potatoes, peanuts, and of course chocolate. The Mexicas domesticated bees for honey, and turkeys for meat and eggs, also dogs and duck. They hunted and fished as well, and used animals such as deer, rabbits, iguana, fish and shrimp for food. Even insects, such as grasshoppers and worms were harvested. These various types of meat made up only a very minor part of the Aztec food that was eaten.

    Large amounts of algae were collected from the surface of the Texcoco Lake water. High in protein, this algae (known as tecuitlatl) was used to make bread and cheese type foods. This algae is still used in Mexico as a fertilizer.

    The Aztecs often cooked food bundled in the Maguey plant leaves. This dish is called Mixiotes, and it’s still eaten in Mexico today. Different leaves are used because the Maguey population was suffering.

  3. Cela fait un certain temps (et même un temps certain) que j’ai lu les deux premiers tomes, mais quand j’y repense, deux personnages m’ont particulièrement marqués :
    Acatl lui-même (très original, je sais) : le fait est que je trouve plein de points communs entre lui et moi, impression confortée par la lecture de sa feuille de perso ^^ il me fait penser à un geek aztèque qui a remplacé l’informatique par leur version locale du royaume des Morts et de la magie.
    Echichilli : il faudrait que je relise la première partie de HoS pour me rappeler exactement pourquoi, mais ce dont je me rappelle est un vieux sage à la Gandalf, qui sait plein de choses, qui est très puissant mais qui étonnamment a peur de parler et d’agir (donc pas vraiment à la Gandalf en fait). Un personnage tout en contradictions. J’ai surtout été très surpris par son destin, sans spoiler je peux dire que je ne m’attendais pas à voir sa ligne de vie suivre un tel chemin…

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