QUERY: Mestlapiques

David Wright dcwright at prodigy.net.mx
Sat May 31 03:11:19 UTC 2008


The first place I usually look for "aztequismos" is Francisco J.
Santamaria's *Diccionario de mejicanismos* (5a ed., Mexico City, Editorial
Porrua, 1992 [1st. ed. 1959]).

On page 719 is this entry:

"Mestlapique. (Del azt. *mich-tlapic*: de *michin*, pescado, y *tlapic*,
envuelto.) m. Tamalito compuesto de un pescadito especial, entero, envuelto
en hoja de maíz, asado que se vende en los mercados.
     "'La suciedad y pestilencia eran más notables en los puestos de frutas,
*mestlapiques*, ranas, ajolotes, etcetera, y montalayos, tripa gorda,
pancita, carnitas y otras carnes indecentes y medio podridas'. (PRIETO,
*Memorias*, II p. 69.)"

The reference is to Guillermo Prieto, *Memorias de mis tiempos*, Mexico
City, 1906.

*Mich(in)*, of course, is fish, and our dear friend Alonso de Molina, on f.
132r of the second section of his *Vocabulario*, confirms Santamaria's gloss
of *Tlapic*:

"Tlapictli. hechura, o criatura, o cosa criada, fingida, o cosa embuelta en
hojas de mayz, assi como tamalli. &c. o almario hecho en lo hueco d la

The question is whether *mestlapique* really derives from *mich* + *tlapic*.

In San Nicolás, Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo, I've eaten delicious tamales with
*charales* or tiny fish (in this case from the nearby Presa Golondrinas,
next to Alfajayucan), packed in aromatic herbs, with no corn, cooked on the
comal rather than the usual steaming in the *olla tamalera*. What made them
"tamales" was the fact that they were cooked in corn leaves. Nobody there
called them *mestlapiques*; Santamaria's entry just reminded me of the



-----Mensaje original-----
Does anyone out there happen to know the Latin name for the scaly
viviparous fish called mestlapique? I have found dozens of references
to them as an important food source for the lakeshore people and
chinamperos of Lake Chalco and Lake Xochimilco but haven't been able
to ascertain exactly what they are. Sahagun has a one-line description
of a fish called Michipitli, which maybe the same creature, and Aleman
lists mestlapiques as an important lake fish in his geographical
dictionary. So far, however, I have found no present-day references or
alternative names for them.
Thanks much,
Kevin Smith

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