what did they eat at the missions?
By the 1800s most of the missions were firmly established. They had large herds of livestock – there were some cattle and sheep at all of the missions. The largest herd was at San Luis Rey which, in 1832, had 26,100 cattle and 20,100 sheep. Each mission also had large fields of crops - wheat, barley, corn, beans and peas mostly. They ate this food, cooking it according to recipes the padres brought with them. These were mostly Spanish and Mexican dishes.
The food eaten at the mission was ‘substantial’, formed around grain and cornmeal, sharpened with chilies. Some of the specific dishes for which recipes have been found are Puchero (a broiled pot of beef and veal mixed with corn, potatoes, beans, onions, peppers, string beans, squash along with an apple and a pear), Torrejas (corn dough fritters), Tortillas and a dish called Relleno de Carne (chopped beef mixed with onions, raisins, black olives and an egg).
They also had recipes for sweets. One was called Dulce de Calabaz (a candied pumpkin), another was called a Jiricalla (a custard). The Spanish liked a thick chocolate called a Champurrado (it was thicker and sweeter than the Hot Chocolate we known today). Many of the missions had large groves of fruit trees so apples and pears were plentiful at some missions.