Pinole, also called pinol, is a typical pre-Hispanic drink originating with the Aztecs, who spread it throughout Mesoamerica. It is made principally of toasted ground corn, which can then be combined with cocoa, sugar, cinnamon, or vanilla. It can be prepared hot or cold. Depending on how the corn is ground—either with a machine, which produces a fine powder, or by hand using a mortar and pestle, which makes a heavier powder, pinole can be either a watery drink or a heavier cereal, similar to oatmeal. Herbs and flavorings added to pinole include ground mustard seeds, ground chia seeds, ground cacao, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla, achiote, and other grasses and annual herbs. The mixture is sometimes beaten with water to make a hot or cold beverage (also called pinole), or sometimes cooked with water to make an edible mush.
Its name comes from the Nahuatl word pinolli, meaning cornmeal. It is a coarse flour made from ground toasted maize kernels, often in a mixture with a variety of herbs and ground seeds, which can be eaten by itself or be used as the base for a beverage. In southeastern Mexico and in Central America this food and beverage is known as pinol or pinolillo, considered the national beverage of Nicaragua and Honduras.
Pinole is considered highly nutritious and is eaten by many Mexicans as an important part of their diet.
As a sweet, the pinole is made by mixing flour with sugar in proportions dependent on the taste of the guest. It can be flavored with various ingredients, such as cinnamon or cocoa, to vary the taste, which are added in small proportions as the pinole has very mild taste. This tidbit is consumed as a powder.
In parts of central Mexico, groups of rowdy youths traditionally went from house to house during Carnival to demand pinole, which they were served without water (and frequently mixed with chili pepper to make it even more difficult to swallow). This custom may have given rise to the popular saying, El que tiene más saliva, traga más pinole ("Whoever has the most saliva, swallows the most pinole"; in other words, whoever has the most skill for a particular job will accomplish the most).