Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2) eBook

Carl Sofus Lumholtz
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 450 pages of information about Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2).

To my knowledge, this beer is not known outside of the Tarahumare tribe and their immediate neighbours, the northern Tepehuanes, the Tubars, and some Mexicans in Chihuahua who have also adopted it.  It must not be confounded with the well-known Mexican drink, pulque, to which it is superior in flavour.  It is very nourishing, and the Indians as well as the Mexicans are in the habit of abstaining from food before partaking of the beer, which they assert would otherwise not agree with them.  But, food or no food, at all feasts and dances they drink such incredibly large quantities that they are invariably completely overpowered by it, though when taken in moderation tesvino is only mildly stimulating.

Another national beverage, maguey wine, is made from a favourite sweet food of many Indian tribes, which a white man’s stomach can hardly digest, namely, the baked stalk of the maguey plant, or that of other agaves.  To prepare the liquor, the leaves are cut from the bulb-shaped stalk or heart, which looks like a hard white head of cabbage.  These hearts contain a great deal of saccharine matter, and are baked between hot stones in earth mounds, being protected against contact with earth by layers of grass.

When the Tarahumares want to make maguey wine they leave the baked stalks in water in natural hollows or pockets in rocks, without any covering.  The root of a certain plant called frijolillo is added as a ferment, and after two days the juice is wrung out with a blanket.

An intoxicating drink is also made from another agave, called tshawi, which, though common on the higher slopes of the barrancas, has only recently become known to science.  According to tradition it is the first plant God created, and the liquor made from it is considered by the pagan Tarahumares as indispensable to certain ceremonies.  The Tepehuanes, too, put much importance on this brew, and say that the plant is so sensitive that if one passes a jar in which it is being boiled the liquid will not ferment.

Finally it should be mentioned that an intoxicating, though extremely distasteful drink is made from the stalk of the maize plant (cana), by pounding this material into a pulp, then allowing it to soak in water for three days, when it is fermented, whereupon the liquor is prepared in the same way as the maguey wine.

Chapter XIV

Politeness, and the Demands of Etiquette—­The Daily Life of the Tarahumare—­The Woman’s Position is High—­Standard of Beauty—­Women Do the Courting—­Love’s Young Dream—­Marriage Ceremonies, Primitive and Civilised—­Childbirth—­Childhood.

For a barbarian, the Tarahumare is a very polite personage.  In his language he even has a word “reko” which is the equivalent of the English “please,” and which he uses constantly.  When passing a stranger, or leaving a person, he draws attention to his action by saying, “I am going.”  As he grows civilised, however, he loses his good manners.

Project Gutenberg
Unknown Mexico, Volume 1 (of 2) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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