The Molcajete and Its Global Variants
The molcajete is a very important part of Mexican culture, dating back to pre-Hispanic times with over a thousand years of history. This utensil is so iconic in Mexican culture that it can be said that there is at least one molcajete in every Mexican household.
But the molcajete is not only found in Mexico; there are several variants around the world that serve the same functions as the Mexican molcajete, such as:
In the southern part of the American continent, we find the Batán or Maray used in Peru, Bolivia, and Argentina. It is a stone object for grinding food, consisting mainly of a flat stone that can be up to 40cm tall and 60cm in diameter. It has a grinding stone called uña, mama, or mano, and the smaller ones are called wawa. The uña is used by holding it with both hands and rocking it back and forth over the food until it is crushed.
Now, if we go to the old continent, we find the Almirez, a very heavy metal mortar, mainly used in Spain and India, although its name comes from Arabic. This metal mortar can be used with both dry and hard foods, as well as soft and moist ones.
Moving on to the Asian continent, we encounter the Suribachi, a mortar of Japanese origin made of ceramic. One of its main characteristics is that the artisan creates grooved marks on the interior part to facilitate the grinding of hard or soft foods. The exterior is made of wood and is usually hand-varnished. This mortar is more suitable for friction-based grinding than the force-based grinding of the Batán or Almirez.