River Stones

During ancient times, American Indians utilized sedimentary rocks and sandstone for manufacturing many of the tools they needed. Stone was plentiful in the territories they resided, as well as durable. Proven to be useful, American Indians also found stone to be beneficial as a bartering tool, for building shelter and grinding grain.

River stones were frequently used to soften meat, grind corn, crush leaves and other vegetables.  Mortar and pestle tools were used by American Indians for grinding foods. According to the Encylopedia Britannica it is the the first known means for grinding grain. A shallow impression would be made within stone, grain placed inside, and pounded with a stone similar to a club — oblong shape — in appearance. “Mano” is the Spanish word for “hand.” It pertains to stone utilized in one or both hands swayed against a larger stone for grinding seeds. “Metate” is a term used by American Indians detailing the larger stone upon which the mano is used to grind the grain.

I recall my mother used river stones of several sizes to soften meat, crush garlic and green plantain to make “patacones“.  There was always a collection of river stones in my mother’s kitchen.  They were black in color and very smooth.  Even though we have pierced inside the 21st century, we are still clinging to our traditions of our ancestors.  My mother-in-law also used river stones to cook in her home in Aguadulce, and this tradition was passed on to my wife Aura.

Below is a pictures of a dark river stone which my wife still uses to prepare our meals.  You know that I’m a technological geek, but I still won’t let go of ancient traditions like river stones to prepare our food.  As Alvin Toffler used to say, “change is non-linear and can go backwards, forwards and sideways.”

Snapshot of a dark river stone surrounded by onions, tomatoes, garlic, carrots and green sweet pepper. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.

2 thoughts on “River Stones”

  1. When I read “Aguadulce”, my first thought was of Guatemala. Many cruisers head there – it’s apparently a very good place to keep a boat. But now I know there is an Aguadulce in Panama, too – and Spain, and Mexico, and… 😉

    In Liberia, wooden mortars and pestles were used to thrash rice and pound palm nuts. No stones in that country! But there was no corn to be ground, either. Funny how these things work out.

    The photos are so appealing – and this may be the night I go down the road to sample the tamales from a new little shop that has opened!

  2. Hello Linda:

    Aguadulce is the city where my wife was born. It’s a sugar cane area with two large sugar refineries. I’m planning a trip there to take pictures of the area.

    Good luck with your search for tamales. Yummy-yum-yum.



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