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Alcohol in ancient Mexico /
Henry J. Bruman ; foreword by Peter T. Furst.
Salt Lake City : University of Utah Press, 2000.
xii, 158 p. : ill., maps
0874806585 (hardcover : alk. paper)
More Details
Salt Lake City : University of Utah Press, 2000.
0874806585 (hardcover : alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2001-06-01:
This is the only book that deals with this important subject, and it is extraordinary in combining classic historical, geographical, and ethnographic perspectives in a systematic way. Although the subject may appear to be of limited interest, scientists in many fields disagree. Colonial Mexico is important as the northernmost area within the Western Hemisphere where alcoholic beverages existed before the arrival of Europeans. Bruman combines extensive ethnographic fieldwork with intensive analysis of pre-Columbian, colonial, and republican historical materials. Paying close attention to ecology in a way that is still rare, the author maps and discusses the distribution and presumed evolution of types of native drinks. Interpretations are cautious but sound and have already served the scholarly community well. Originally a doctoral dissertation, this book remained unpublished for more than 60 years, during which it was already famous, widely used and cited by those interested in alcohol studies. Although the author resisted publishers' requests because he felt the work should be updated, the University of Utah Press has provided a significant service by making this book more readily available. Upper-division undergraduates and above. D. B. Heath Brown University
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, June 2001
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Publisher Fact Sheet
Never-before-published material tracing the history of distillation in Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish.
Unpaid Annotation
The art of distillation arrived in Mexico with the Spaniards in the sixteenth century. Even before that time native skills and available resources had contributed to a well-developed tradition of intoxicating beverages, many of which are still produced and consumed.Henry Bruman visited various Mexican and Central American Indian tribes to reconstruct the variety and extent of these ancient traditions. He discerned five distinct areas that he defined by their culturally most significant beverages and superimposed these over the great mescal wine region. In these regions he noted wines from cactus, cactus fruit, cornstalks, and mesquite pods, beer from sprouted maize, and fermented sap from pulque agaves. Outside of the mescal region he observed widespread consumption in the Yucatan or a wine made from fermented honey and balche bark and lesser-known beverages in other regions. He also observed the frequent inclusion in the fermentation process of alkaloid-bearing ingredients such as peyote and tobacco, plants whose roots or bark contain saponins -- which act as cardiac poisons -- and even poisons from certain toads!Alcohol in Ancient Mexico describes in detail the various plants and processes used to make such beverages, their prevalence, and their significance for local culture. It also considers the relative absence of alcoholic drink in the southwestern United States, the introduction of stills following the Spanish conquest, and possible sources for the introduction of coconut wine.Although this book is based on research conducted in the 1930's, this never-before-published material retains its relevance today. Bruman's photographs offer a fascinating glimpse at a traditionalworld that was vanishing even then.
Table of Contents
List of Figuresp. VI
List of Mapsp. VI
Forewordp. VII
Prefacep. XII
Introductionp. 3
The Non-Alcohol Region in the Northp. 7
Mescal and Sotolp. 12
The Northwest Cactus Regionp. 31
Tesguinop. 37
Tuna and Mesquitep. 47
Cornstalk Winep. 57
Pulquep. 61
Mescal and Jocotep. 83
The Region beyond Mescalp. 87
Checklist of Intoxicating Beveragesp. 99
Auxiliary Herbsp. 103
Classification of Intoxicating Beveragesp. 107
Notesp. 109
Bibliographyp. 136
About the Authorp. 145
Henry J. Bruman Selected Bibliographyp. 147
Indexp. 149
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

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