Tucson AZ Home Loan Info


Equipping The Modern Kitchen In The Arizona Desert (Circa 1750)

 ~ Every Indian Kitchen Needed One ~

This valley was a food source for ancient Amerindians: Mike in Tucson, AZ mortgage lenderThe kitchen is the first room I want to see in a new home.  Ease of food preparation has a lot to do with the home's value.  I've toured beautiful homes and been captured by the modern conveniences that have been installed in the kitchen.  Maybe the subject resonates more with me because I dearly love to cook.

It's been the same throughout history. Cooks everywhere want conveniences.

I took these photos southwest of Tucson, in the Sierrita mountains.  I was bushwhacking (exploring where no trails exist) in the valley at the base of a granite upthrust, when I came across this communal "kitchen." 

Who can identify the food source and the method of preparation?  (Incidentally, this same food source and method of preparation are practiced and enjoyed in Tucson's cuisine today.)

What's this?  Mike in Tucson, AZ mortgage lender


I'm Mike in Tucson, your preferred Tucson Arizona Mortgage Lender.

NMLS #223495

SUNSTREET MORTGAGE llc ~ Correspondent Mortgage Bank
Offices (AZ) Mesa, Tucson, Sierra Vista, and Nogales.

Comment balloon 35 commentsMike Jones • February 17 2011 10:08AM


Looks like an old fashioned corn grinder to me!  It's hard work, and then you still have to prepare the meal.

Posted by Retired from ActiveRain almost 10 years ago

What cool pictures!!  Though, I'm not sure what the method is they're using or the dish that would still be available in Tucson today.

Posted by Kimberly A Norgard (Devlin McNiff Halstead Real Estate) almost 10 years ago


That will be the subject of a follow-up post.


Corn wasn't a staple this far south, although the Navajo Indians grew it in Canyon De Chelly, up in the four corners area.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 10 years ago

Looks like a mortar and pestle to me!  Given the area, I'd say... some kind of grassy grain or dried cactus?

Posted by Torgie Madison, Websites and Contact Management (Quicksilver Real Estate Solutions, LLC) almost 10 years ago

Amazing Mike!  I always love your photos and the story you tell!  :)

Posted by Michael and Cheron Lange, Associate Broker, GRI (Solutions Real Estate) almost 10 years ago

Michael & Cheron,

I appreciate the encouragement!  Thanks for stopping by.


You're right about the mortar and pestle, but not on the food source.

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 10 years ago


Yup, I will go with the others. Perhaps some kind of grinder or grist mill.


Posted by Brent Wells, Real Estate Broker serving all of North DFW (The LivingWell Team) almost 10 years ago
  1. Wow...that really is a great brain thinker ...although I would go with taro grinder :)  Of course that's not it but the whole reminded me of one :)
Posted by Celeste "SALLY" Cheeseman, (RA) AHWD CRS ePRO OAHU HAWAII REAL ESTATE (Liberty Homes) almost 10 years ago

Mike, Is it for grinding mesquite beans to make a sweet flour?  You're right about my previous answer.  I was thinking more along the lines of what the Navajo and Hopi would do.  You're near the Tohono O'Odham Reservation, right?

Posted by Retired from ActiveRain almost 10 years ago

Fascinating!  That makes some of my fixer listings looks very state-of-the-art!

Posted by Catherine Ulrey, Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist (Keller Williams Capital City) almost 10 years ago

I recently went to the pyramids in Mexico and saw a modern (LOL) toilet ;-)

Posted by Melissa Zavala, Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County (Broadpoint Properties) almost 10 years ago

Well, everyone wants granite in the kitchen these days... history has revealed more wear and tear on the teeth as a result of these methods of food prep because of the amount of rock/sand mixed in. Still very ingenious! What a find when your out hiking!

Posted by Peg Barcelo, The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC (Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369) almost 10 years ago

Maybe the stone gets hot enough to actually cook something you would put down in the holes?

Posted by Heather Littrell, ABR,GRI,SRES Cabarrus County NC (Keller Williams) almost 10 years ago

Well, I'm guessing it wasn't for holding their water bottles, LOL.  And, I would've guessed corn grinding, but you said that wasn't it.  So, I'm going to try some type of seed, like pumpkin seeds? 

Posted by Juli Vosmik, Scottsdale/Cave Creek, AZ real estate 480-710-0739 (Dominion Fine Properties) almost 10 years ago
Excellent photos! Nice tie in to RE as well
Posted by Jimmy Gilley, (269) 362-4841 - Search Niles MI Home For Sale (Gold Star Realty) almost 10 years ago

I'm sure they appreciated each and every meal !!

Posted by Cory Barbee, Broker (760) 563-4022 almost 10 years ago

Hi Mike~  What an interesting find!  You will have to tell us what it is!  I have no clue!

Posted by Vickie McCartney, Broker, Real Estate Agent Owensboro KY (Maverick Realty) almost 10 years ago

Mike - you always manage to take and post the coolest photos and you have all of us wondering, so please tell!

Posted by Barbara-Jo Roberts Berberi, MA, PSA, TRC - Greater Clearwater Florida Residential Real Estate Professional, Palm Harbor, Dunedin, Clearwater, Safety Harbor (Charles Rutenberg Realty) almost 10 years ago

In California, the usual food source was acorns, but in the desert it might have been chia or mesquite.

Posted by Jim Little, Your Sun City Arizona Realtor (Ken Meade Realty) almost 10 years ago

Mesquite Pods: Courtesy of Desert Harvesters: Mike in Tucson, AZ mortgage lender




...and the winner is...  (drum roll, please)  RICK OBST!

Mike in Tucson

(photo courtesy of Desert Harvesters

See their website at http://www.desertharvesters.org)


Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 10 years ago

Thanks Mike.  I was born and raised in the Phoenix area and have traveled extensively through the southwest desert.  I had a huge mesquite tree in the front yard of one of my homes and tried grinding mesquite beans in a coffee grinder to make flour for baking.  The bean pods are so hard that one of the grinder blades broke during the grinding process.  Grinding mesquite beans with a rock would be very hard work.

Posted by Retired from ActiveRain almost 10 years ago


They're fibrous, and don't grind well at all (as you learned.)  Pounding, on the other hand, works well.  Modern day afficionados in Tucson use a portable Hammer Mill to do the job.  Check out the website at www.desertharvesters.org

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 10 years ago

Good thing I wasn't cooking back then.  Looks like way too much work to me!

Posted by Debbie Walsh, Hudson Valley NY Real Estate 845.283-3036 (Shahar Management) almost 10 years ago

Mike, Great photos as always.  I was just thinking of the work that it took to make those holes in that granite.  Fascinating. 

And thank you so much for your help today when I called you.

Posted by Gary Coles (International Referrals), Latin America Real Estate (Venture Realty International) almost 10 years ago

Hi Mike -- What a fascinating post.  Any idea how old those holes in the rocks are? When they were used?

Posted by Chris Olsen, Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate (Olsen Ziegler Realty) almost 10 years ago

Hi Mike, I had no idea what they did or the food source.  You can tell I'm not a cook!

Posted by Kay Van Kampen, Realtor®, Springfield Mo Real Estate (RE/MAX Broker, RE/MAX) almost 10 years ago

I just hope the home inspector wrote up all those holes. Wow.

Posted by Jon Quist, Tucson's BUYERS ONLY Realtor since 1996 (REALTY EXECUTIVES ARIZONA TERRITORY) almost 10 years ago




No worries.


The inside of the holes gives a clue to the fact that they're not recent.  The rock face is weathered somewhat.  I'm guessing when I use 250 years, and I've got a geologist friend looking into it.


Any time!


I'll bet it was a lot of work.  You couldn't refrigerate leftovers either...

Mike in Tucson

Posted by Mike Jones, Mike Jones NMLS 223495 (SUNSTREET MORTGAGE, LLC (BK-0907366, NMLS 145171) ) almost 10 years ago


The very thought makes me want to call to order a pizza delivery!  Thanks for the photos and brainteaser.

Posted by Irene Kennedy Realtor® in Northwestern NJ (Weichert) almost 10 years ago

Thanks for the Trivia Question. I'm so happy for modern technology.Grinding in that little hole looks like quite the work out.

Congrats on tieing it into RE.:) Slick!

Posted by Traci Ferguson, Realtor, EcoBroker, LEED AP (San Luis Obispo Realtor & ecoBroker with Patterson Realty) almost 10 years ago

We like to walk in the desert and find old ruins. Hey-we all have to eat. Great find

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia III, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) almost 10 years ago

GOOD MORNING MIKE!  I learn something new every time I read your blog!  This should be featured in the Arizona centennial news - very good history! --G

Posted by Gabrielle Kamahele Rhind, Broker/Owner (KGC Properties LLC, Tucson Property Management & Real Estate) almost 10 years ago


I learned something new and cool today. Thanks for sharing this part of your area's history!

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) almost 10 years ago

Mike, You inspired me to watch three episodes of Arizona Connections on DVD last night.  They were originally produced and aired by the PBS station at ASU.  I'm pretty well read on AZ history, but learned several things on the shows.  I miss Arizona in winter.  Thanks for the congratulatory phone call too.

Posted by Retired from ActiveRain almost 10 years ago

Mike - Those mortar and pestle holes would be really handy to have in my backyard.  I don't need as many of them, but there are days when I think it would be neat.  I love coming across stuff like this.

Posted by Myrl Jeffcoat, Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent (GreatWest Realty) over 9 years ago

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