Colors, Traditions, Ingredients
Chili peppers. Like many other dishes in Mexican cuisine, pozole exists in three colors. Red pozole is flavored with a sauce based on dry red chili peppers. Green one gets its color from a combination of charred green chili peppers and tomatillos, herbs (epasote and cilantro, and sometimes pepitas (pumpkin seeds). White pozole is not flavored by any sauce.
Pork. In pre-Hispanic Mexico, after the ritual sacrifices in which the victim’s hearts were offered to the deities, the rest of the body was cooked with corn and distributed among all the participants in a kind of communion act. (See “Recipe Notes” section for source information.) Later, after cannibalism was banned, pork substituted the human flesh because it tasted similar.
Today, to add more pork flavor and viscosity to the soup cooks use meat with bones and connective tissues, like pig’s feet or knuckles, which require long and slow cooking. For lighter versions of soup, a pork shoulder or butt is preferred.
Hominy. Nahuatl: pozolli, modern variants: pozolé, pozolli, pasole. There are a few versions of what the Nahuatl word pozolli means. Some translate it as “sparkling,” other say it’s “foam.” For many people of Mexican origin, pozole is another name of hominy.
From wiki: “Hominy is made in a process called nixtamalization. To make hominy, field corn (maize) grain is dried, then treated by soaking and cooking the mature (hard) grain in a dilute solution of lye, slaked lime (calcium hydroxide), or wood ash. The soaked maize is washed. Alkalinity helps dissolve hemicellulose, the major glue-like component of the maize cell walls, loosens the hulls from the kernels and softens the corn. Also, soaking the corn in lime kills the seed’s germ, which keeps it from sprouting while in storage. Finally, in addition to providing a source of dietary calcium, the lime reacts with the corn so that the nutrient niacin can be assimilated by the digestive tract.”
Even though hominy is one of the main ingredients, there are two established ways to use it when making this soup: 1) slowly cook dry hominy first and use the broth as a base, and 2) cook pork to make a broth and add cooked hominy to the soup at the end.
Soup-salad. Toppings are my favorite part of this soup. I think they are what makes this soup exceptional from the taste and texture point of view as well as its serving and eating experience. I like how some recipe authors refer to pozole as a “soup-salad,” because so many raw ingredients are added to a hot bowl of soup right before eating it.
Celebratory soup. Ritual significance of pozole transformed into a custom of serving it on some holidays and special occasions. It’s a typical communal food all over Mexico and in Mexican communities all over the world. It is part of the menu in many Mexican restaurants, including in Texas.