“Drink of Gods”
The word “maguey” is of pre-Columbian origin; In the Nahuatl language, it is called metl, a name linked to the mayauetl or mayahuel voice, which means the female goddess. A Swedish naturalist of the 18th century named the magueys “agave” or “agaváceas”, as he found them illustrious and admirable.
That is precisely the meaning of agave in the Greco-Latin voice agavus
The maguey was called “tree of wonders” in the reviews of the Jesuit José Acosta, for being attributed in Mexico miracles such as giving water, wine, oil, vinegar, honey, and a textile ber known as ixtle, with which bags can be made, zarapes, canvases, dresses, overflowing or mats.
The indigenous peoples bequeathed an ancient tradition for the use of this plant. It is known that it was domesticated for ten thousand years, that is why its uses are already part of the cultural diversity of this country.
Pulque, the “drink of the gods”, comes out of the maguey. The pre-Hispanic inhabitants implemented various ways to obtain the juice of the magueys to make this drink, which is still used today. One of them consists of opening the heart of the still-living plant, splitting it, and scraping it so that it oozes crystalline and viscous juices.
The result is a liquid with a sweet taste and slightly astringent. It is a refreshing and nutritious drink due to its sugar content. If it is
allowed to stand, it ferments and its color changes from crystalline to milky white with low alcohol content. In this way, pulque is
obtained, a characteristic drink of our country
A UAM specialist told us what metepantle is and how his sustainable project seeks to rescue pulque and mead.
Dr. Gustavo Viniegra has been working for years in the rescue of the pulquero maguey. One of his next goals is to achieve a bottled and gasified product, totally chilango, derived from pulque and mead.
In an interview, he told us what metepantle is and how it could help solve food and economic problems in rural areas of Chilangas.
The member of the Department of Biotechnology of the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM) seeks to develop fermentation processes and create agave by-products.
In pre-Hispanic times, although the harvests were not good, families had safe food when planting maguey, as well as pulque to sell. But the tradition changed.
“Beer was given priority and the industry crushed the production of maguey, although it is still present in 80% of the poorest areas of Mexico,” he adds.
What is metepantle and how can you modernize pulque
The metepantle technique, explained by the specialist, consists of sowing corn, beans, and fruit plants between rows of magueys. These prevent soil from eroding and work in areas with little water.
“Then it is necessary to take advantage of it,” he adds. For this, it has made connections between engineers, artisans, and farmers to adapt machines that convert the maguey ixtle fibers into ecological bags that reduce the use of plastics. Single-use plastics are prohibited in CDMX. What is leftover from the fiber becomes fodder to fatten the sheep.
They have also achieved alliances with expert winemakers to generate new beverages based on mead and pulque, with the goal of achieving a fully Mexican bottled and aerated product.
“It may be a modest thing, but with the drink, the bags, and the rescue of the metepantle we are creating connections and building community,” he said.
“It may seem simple, but we return to the concept of frontier science by combining cutting-edge knowledge, ancestral knowledge and technology.”
Gustavo Viniegra details that behind forage or drinks there is biochemical research. In the improvement of the agricultural processes of metepantle there is metagenomics and in the machines for bags, there is technological and engineering knowledge. “It is to connect scientific knowledge with the needs of society,” he sums up.
According to the researcher, the metepantle technique is about to reach places in Mexico City such as Milpa Alta, Tláhuac, Tlalpan, Cuajimalpa and Magdalena Contreras.
The first Sunday of February of each year the National Pulque Day is celebrated
“Pulque is more than an intoxicating drink and young people have been seduced by its flavors and the mysticism that is accompanied by music and art in the pulque shops of yesteryear that still exist.”
ALLIES IN TRADITION
Pulque and craft beer are on the same side of the boat. They share spaces, culture and tradition that allow them to stay on top of original Mexican drinks.
Both contribute and enrich the gastronomic offer of the country, they have coincidences when they are located within the family of alcoholic drinks that are obtained through a fermentation process, in addition to that they have in their favor that consumers in national territory give themselves the opportunity to rediscover its flavors, considers Paz Austin, director of the Beer Association of the Mexican Republic (Acermex).
Craft brewers promote the consumption of pulque to keep alive the tradition of drinks of national origin
“We are people who believe that their roots must be present in the future and we are very happy that Mexicans want to try flavors other than light and dark beers, in addition there is a huge variety of drinks in the country such as pulque, mezcal and even the tejuino ”, declares the also graduate of the Universidad Iberoamericana.
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