Pulque, one ancient drink for the mexican gods


Gabrielo Roldán

MEXICO.- This drink, much appreciated in the Mexica empire, is obtained from the maguey leaves when the plant is ripe. To do this the bud or heart is torn and its walls are scraped to a cavity, which, a few days later, will water the mead of the pencas for a period of three to six months.

The tlachiquero is in charge of extracting the liquid by means of suction with an acocote (the acocote its a root that ancient mexicans used for extract the aguamiel), two or three times a day, and depositing it in a bottle or hide (pulque leather), or in a chestnut, previously made of wood and in The actual fiberglass, then empty it into the tinacal (the recipent where de aguamiel ferments), where it is fermented. Unfermented mead is a delicious, sweet and transparent soda. Once fermented it becomes octli or pulque, intoxicating drink that still today is consumed in many towns.

In the pre-Hispanic age only the main lords or the elders, men and women already retired from the active life (over 52 years), could consume it, and those who were to be sacrificed in the temple of Huitzilopochtli were allowed to drink it until intoxicated. It was also administered, either alone or combined with various herbs, to the sick and to the women in labor, since it was considered an effective medicine to relieve the most varied evils.

Drunkenness was a crime punishable severely. Offenders for the first time were publicly shaved; Those who re-offended their houses and were denied access to any honorable office, and if they were not amended they were condemned to die hanged, beaten or stoned. However, on special occasions, as in the festivals of the wine gods, Fray Bernardino de Sahagún tells us, “not only the old and the old drank wine pulque; But all, young men and women, boys and girls, drank it until they got drunk.”

With the Conquest, these sanctions were without effect, but even when the viceroyal authorities did everything possible to end the pulque, the attempts failed. The most they could do was regulate the installation of pulquerías, of which, for example, in Mexico City could be established up to 36 for men and 12 for women.

The Indians continued to drink it not only to be drunk, but also as a food supplement, substitute for the meat; Indeed, we now know that pulque contains proteins, carbohydrates and various vitamins. In some regions it even became a staple drink due to the scarcity of water. The economic profit produced by pulque increased, and by the time of the Porfiriato the pulqueras haciendas lived their moment of splendor. The consumption of pulque was generalized among the mestizo population and the pulquerías multiplied. Some travelers of the time settled that in Mexico City there was almost a pulqueria by street.

The pulquerías were attractive meeting places where, to the music of guitar, harp and other instruments, the parishioners could dance, play hopscotch, dice and the Spanish deck. The names of the pulquerías were generally very picturesque: “The preoccupations of Bacchus,” “Good friendships,” “Salsipuedes,” or “The Future,” which when closed and reopened was called “Memories of the Future, And “The Apache”, which became “The Daughter of the Apache”. In the street of Donceles, in Mexico City, in front of the Chamber of Deputies, the so-called “Recreo de los de frente” survived for several years and was famous in Pachuca, in the steep street of Doria, To the step but I arrive “. Before the increasingly abundant attendance, it was frequent to find the inscription “Go in, go ask, go pay, go out”.

At present the cultivation of maguey has been replaced by that of barley, which is more economically profitable, since it is used for brewing, whose consumption has become widespread. Most likely, in the future there will be no more pulquerias, which will become part of the colorful anecdotary of our history.

The maguey a vineyard of the past

In addition to decorating the fields with its unique beauty, the maguey plant, cultivated in Hidalgo for centuries, has been used for several purposes. From this agave, encrusted in arid and stony ground, and almost without water, have taken advantage of, besides the mead and pulque, the pebbles to cover, like tiles, the peasant huts; Their thorns have served as needles or nails, and with their fiber they wove the blankets of various qualities which the Otomi and Mazahua natives used to dress themselves or as blankets; Also with them they used to pay their tributes to the Aztec emperors.

More and more scarce, in the kitchen has also taken advantage of the maguey. Its blades are used to cover the barbecue during its cooking under the ground; Their skin or “skin” to wrap the mixiotes, and what about the worms that are reared in them and that are an exquisite bite of Mexican food.



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