People, Way of Life
Spanish traditions, food franchises, banana leaf, European culture, tamales
There is great variety in Guatemalan lifestyles, marked by differences between ladino and Maya ways and between urban and rural areas. In the capital, European culture and fashions have long been dominant. More recently North American styles—in cinema, music, politics, business, even fast-food franchises—have become a powerful influence that has diminished traditional Spanish customs. In urban areas, the ladino culture is a mixture of indigenous and Spanish traditions. Ladinos often blend the clothing and musical styles of the two cultures, and eat dishes from both groups: wheat bread and processed foods on one hand, traditional corn tortillas and rice and beans on the other.
Outside the capital, especially in rural areas, more traditional ways persist. In indigenous communities, most of the women and many men still wear brightly colored native dress. The typical rural family is industrious; men usually work the fields, while women care for the children and weave beautiful textiles with motifs that are unique to each community. A diet of corn, beans, and a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables is standard. Chicken and rice dishes are also common. Beef or pork is less common among the poorer classes, but popular among middle and upper sectors in both town and country. Among a variety of native dishes, on festive occasions Guatemalans of all classes serve tamales made from cornmeal with a variety of vegetable and meat fillings wrapped in a banana leaf.
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