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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

History of Tequila




Today, July 24, is National Tequila Day. Sounds fun, right? Back in the day, I drank my share of tequila, with salt and lemon.  As a nod to my younger days, I thought I’d research the history of tequila.

Tequila is the name for a distilled beverage made from the blue agave plant, primarily in the area surrounding the city of Tequila, 40 miles northwest of Guadalajara. The red volcanic soil in the surrounding region is particularly well-suited to the growing of the blue agave plant. (Wikipedia)

Mezcal wine, tequila’s grandparent, was first produced only a few decades after the Spaniards came to the New World in 1521. Agave played a much larger role than the source of an alcoholic drink. Its leaves were used for a hemp-like fiber to make mats, clothing, rope and paper. It was also the source of the nutrient and vitamin-rich brew, pulque. (Source: Los Cabos Magazine)

The distillation of pulque into something stronger may have originated by the Conquistadors as early as the 1520s. You’re all familiar with Cuervo Tequila. Jose Antonio Cuervo was the first licensed manufacturer of tequila. He received the rights to cultivate a parcel of land from the King of Spain in 1758. Today, Cuervo is the largest manufacturer of tequila in the world. (Source: Los Cabos Magazine)
Mexican laws state that tequila can only be produced in the state of Jalisco and limited municipalities in the states of Guanajuato, Michoacán, Nayarit, and Tamaulipas. Planting, tending, and harvesting the agave plant remains a manual effort, largely unchanged by modern farm machinery and relying on centuries-old know-how.
The men who harvest it, the jimadores [ximaˈðoɾes], have intimate knowledge of how the plants should be cultivated, passed down from generation to generation. (Wikipedia)

"Tequila worm" misconception
A young agave plant


THE WORM
Another interesting error is an urban legend related to a worm. The worm-in-the-bottle myth is old and tired. The truth has been broadcast and expounded for years by the cognoscenti of tequila, in newspapers, magazines and on the internet. Yes, it’s true, some American-bottled brands put one in their bottle to impress the gringos and boost sales, but it was a marketing ploy developed in the 1940s, not a Mexican tradition.

Sometimes however, there is a worm, properly a butterfly caterpillar, in some types of 
mezcal. You may also get a small bag of worm salt and chile powder tied to a mezcal bottle. There are two types of worms in mezcal: the red, gusano rojo—considered superior because it lives in the root and heart of the maguey—and the less-prized white or gold gusano de oro, which lives on the leaves. The red gusano turns pale in the mezcal, the gold turns ashen-gray. Both larvae are commonly eaten as food and are sold in Zapotec markets.

Yes, you’re supposed to eat the worm in mezcal. Don’t worry: it’s quite well pickled and free of pesticides (they’re often raised just for use in mezcal, cooked and pickled in alcohol for a year). But dispel any idea it has any magical or psychotropic properties, that it’s an aphrodisiac or the key to an "unseen world." It’s merely protein and alcohol—but it’s very rich in imagery. Note: Yuck.
In Mexico, the most traditional way to drink tequila is neat, without lime and salt. Outside Mexico, a single shot of tequila is often served with salt and a slice of lime. This is called tequila cruda and is sometimes referred to as "training wheels", "lick-sip-suck", or "lick-shoot-suck" (referring to the way in which the combination of ingredients is imbibed). The drinkers moisten the back of their hands below the index finger (usually by licking) and pour on the salt. Then the salt is licked off the hand, the tequila is drunk, and the fruit slice is quickly bitten. Groups of drinkers often do this simultaneously. (Wikipedia)
Note: I always thought you used lemon. That’s what we did. We used to drink it this way in groups in a bar, mostly the summer of 1971, at the Jersey Shore.


Now that you know all the important facts about tequila, go out and celebrate National Tequila Day.

While drinking your tequila, settle down with a sizzling, fun romance.

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When a young woman hires her hometown’s former bad boy to be her pretend fiancé for the holidays, she finds she can’t wrap up her feelings as easily as a Christmas gift.

New York jewelry designer Graceann Palmer has two days to find a fiancé to bring home to Pennsylvania for the holidays so her matchmaking mama will quit fixing her up with jerks. The Falcon, a motorcycle-riding, leather-clad former high school crush, helped her out once before. Maybe he'll do it again.

Jake Falco, man of many mysteries, is back in town on a mission—one the people of Spirit Lake most likely won't appreciate. When Graceann presents him with her crazy scheme, it gives him something he's always wanted—a chance to get to know Graceann. It also gives him the perfect opportunity to add fuel to his project of revenge. 

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There’s no tequila in A Groom for Christmas, but I’m now writing the sequel, Wedded on a Dare, and I have scene where the heroine and hero are drinking tequila. Let’s hear it for tequila!

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3 comments:

Paris said...

Ah, the summer of 1971. Tequila shots with lemon and salt were a particular favorite with our little crowd. Nowadays, I prefer a sunrise to the shots but I still have some very fond memories. Looking forward to Wedded on a Dare! Keep us posted:)

Cara Marsi said...

Thanks, Paris. Funny that the summer of my tequila was 1971 too. At the Jersey Shore. Good times.

Janice Seagraves said...

Not that I drink, but the story about how this drink is made is fascinating.

Janice~

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