Page:A Study of Mexico.djvu/45

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35
SOCIAL LIFE AND CONVENIENCES.

money the Indian communities effect at the present day, as they have from time immemorial, through associated, patient, and long-continued labor.

In no truly Mexican house of high or low degree, from the adobe hut of the peasant to the great stone edifice in the capital said to have been erected by the Emperor Iturbide, and now an hotel,[1]are there any arrangements for warming or, in the American sense, for cooking; and in the entire city of Mexico, with an estimated population of from two hundred and twenty-five to three hundred thousand, chimneys, fireplaces, and stoves are so rare that it is commonly said that there are none. This latter statement is, however, not strictly correct; yet it approximates so closely to the truth, that but for provision for warm baths, there is probably no exception to it in any of the larger hotels of the city where foreigners most do congregate. All the cooking in Mexico is done over charcoal, or embers fanned to a glow; and fans made of rushes, for this special purpose, are a constant commodity of the market. The use of bellows is unknown, and the employment of the lungs and breath involves too much effort. Apart from the capital

  1. This edifice was not erected by the emperor of that name, as is currently reported; but by a wealthy Mexican citizen for the accommodation of his family—a wife or two, some concubines, and upward of sixty children!