Many traditional Guatemalan foods are based on Maya cuisine and feature corn, chilis, and beans as key ingredients.

Tamales are a favorite in Guatemala as well as other countries of Central America. A tamale is a dish made of a starchy dough, usually made with corn, called masa.  The tamale is steamed or boiled in a leaf wrapper. The wrapping is discarded before eating. They can be filled with meat, cheese, fruits, vegetables, and chilies. 

Tamales have been traced back to the Ancient Mayans, who prepared them for feasts as early as 1200-250 BC.  They were also used as portable food, a very early version of take-away sometimes to support their armies but also for hunters and travelers.


(Boxboles are similar to stuffed grape leaves, a recipe from Greece, since they are also stuffed leaves.)

Ingredients and Preparation


  • 20 güisquil You can try this recipe with any greens (collards, spinach, etc.) you can find in your grocery store or garden. Be sure to remove the stems and wash and dry them very well. Set aside.


Mix together the following ingredients, until everything is well combined and the dough-like mixture is soft but firm:


  • 2 cups of corn flour (corn tortillas-purpose flour), mixed with water as per the instructions in the package
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ cup of sour cream
  • ½ cup of dried cheese (Zacapa, parmesan, cotija)
  • 1 pinch of ground thyme
  • 1 pinch of ground bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper to season


Make small thick sticks (thumbs-like) with the dough and wrap each one in a leaf.

To cook the Boxboles you may use the bain-marie (double boiler) technique or a steamer for about 30 minutes.

Tip to serve the Boxboles

You can use them as a side dish, or as appetizers covered with a simple sauce.

Sauce: blend together with a very small amount of water, 2 roma tomatoes, 2 green onions, 2 tablespoons of roasted pumpkin seeds, and depending on your taste, hot pepper flakes or powder, until the mixture is very smooth. Season with salt and ground black pepper. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 2 minutes.


Mango Avocado Salsa

  • 1 mango, peeled and chopped
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 2 avocados, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 dash garlic salt (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a medium size bowl.

Cover and chill for 20-30 minutes.


Oven Baked Sweet Plantains

  • 4 very ripe (when the skin is yellow with spots of black they're perfect) plantains
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 450°F.

Coat a nonstick cookie sheet with cooking spray.

Cut the ends off of the plantains and peel.

Cut each plantain on the diagonal into 1/2 inch slices.

Arrange in single layer and coat tops with cooking spray.

Bake, turning occasionally, for 10-15 minutes, until plantains are golden brown and very tender.

The rooster crowed, and I woke up. 

I pulled myself out of bed and worked my huipil over my head. I stepped into my corte and tucked the blouse into it. The huipil is as red as a burstingtomato. The corte is blue-black like the beginning of night. I tied a rainbow-striped sash around my waist to hold it up. The colors usually made me glow, but not this morning. I was behind on my homework, and it was report-card day at my school.

Mama speaks mostly our Mayan language, and she never learned to read. Papa speaks more Spanish, but he works far away, on a plantation. In school we study Spanish. It's hard for me, but I like the stories.

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