The Padre's Kitchen
Welcome to the Padre's Kitchen, known as the Pozolera or Community Kitchen. This is where food was prepared for the Padres and their guests, but it is also where anyone who was hungry at the mission could come to receive a "meal".
If you were living or visiting at the mission, and you were hungry… what would I feed you? If it was breakfast, I would be cooking "atole." For lunch, I would be preparing "pozole." In the evening the mission would again serve atole for dinner.
Corn was an important staple in the mission diet. In order to preserve the corn year round, the corn was hung from its own husks to dry. (If you look in the pozolera at La Purisima, you will see corn hanging from the rafters.) Once the kernals are dry, the corn could be shelled. It is likely that the cooks used a "desgranadora de maiz" like the one shown on the pozolera table. This is a round created out of dried corn cobs that have been pasted and bound together with cord. The round would probably be placed at an angle, and the corn scraped across it. The roughness of the dried cobs creates an excellent surface for shelling the corn. The Mission residents had to be very resourceful to create tools from their environment rather than depending upon items they had to purchase from the ships.
The large stone with the feet (which you can see on the table) is called a "metate". The smaller stone on top of it is the "mano" (which means "hand" in Spanish). "Nixtamal" (dried corn which has been reconstituted with water & lime) was ground to make "masa" which was then made into tortillas.
The large beehive oven is called an "horno" which is used to bake bread. At the mission they did not have bread every day, but instead it was baked about once a week as a special treat. Click here to read more about the Horno (Bread Oven). A new page will open. Just close that page to return to this page.
Lard or animal fat was an important mission product. Not only was it an essential part of the mission diet, but it was rendered to obtain the tallow from which they would make make soap and candles.
Gourds were also utilized at the mission. Although too bitter to eat, gourds were dried for other mission uses. When the top is cut off, a gourd makes a water container. Put a cork in it, and you have a canteen. Cut a tall thin gourd in half lengthwise, and you have a scoop. Cut a short fat gourd in half horizontally, keeping the large round bottom, and you have a bowl. The Chumash would go to the ocean and gather the tar that naturally accumulates on the beach. Pieces of tar were placed in the gourd bowl, and then hot rocks (heated in the fire) were dropped into the gourd. As the rocks and tar were stirred, the tar would melt and it would coat the entire inside of the bowl, making a water-tight bowl.
The basket hanging on the wall is called a Oaxaca (pronounced Wah-haw-ka). It was worn as a back pack and is held in place by a large leather strap that goes around the forehead. This leaves both hands free to work in the fields. An example of its use would have been at corn harvest where corn would have been picked and thrown into the basket. When the Oaxaca was full, it would be likely that the corn would be emptied into a "carreta" (cart).
For now, this concludes our tour of La Purisima Mission.
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