Then dilute this syrup with more water, cool, and ferment into tesgüino in just a few days. (The process is described in greater detail in the following sections.)
For the Tarahumara people of northern Mexico, tesgüino “is of primary functional importance in the social organization and culture,” according to anthropologist John G. Kennedy. Tesgüino drinking events, known as tesguinada , are “the basic social activity of the people,” and are frequent ceremonial events. Tesguinada also play an important economic role. Often they are work parties, in which tesgüino serves as the reward for helping. The procedure, when one needs to accomplish a major task such as weeding, harvesting, cutting fodder, spreading fertilizer, fence making, or house building, is to make an appropriate amount of tesguino, and then to invite men from the surrounding ranchos to come to work and drink. Tesguino is considered the pay one receives for the work and is a mandatory ingredient in the situation, though basic motivations are the reciprocal bonds, obligation, and privilege which hold between the men in the vicinity. When the “inviter” makes his rounds to the various households, he says, “Would you like to drink a little tesguino tomorrow?” He feels it unnecessary to first
mention that work will be a part of the program, and stresses the social aspect of the tesguinada to follow. A man may choose to perform any task alone or to make tesguino, but the latter method is much preferred because of the time and effort saved, and because of the euphoria of group participation which is so lacking in the relative solitude of everyday life. This group camaraderie is of course considerably enhanced by the effects of the alcohol. 14 The importance of the tesguinada extends far beyond labor. “It is the religious group, the economic group, the entertainment group, the group at which disputes are settled, marriages arranged, and deals completed.” Ethnobotanist William Litzinger described the Tarahumara methods of tesgüino preparation in some detail in his 1983 PhD dissertation. “Sprouting the kernels is the longest part of the process,” writes Litzinger, describing a range of containers used to sprout the corn while protecting it from light, so it does not develop bitter chlorophyll: Many kinds of containers are used for sprouting maize kernels, including wooden boxes and tin cans. Earthen pits are also used. They are dug in a sunny, protected spot near the house. The pits are lined with grass leaves or other green foliage, and covered with a layer of pine needles. During the winter months the kernels are sprouted in containers placed inside the house, close to the cooking fire where a good even level of heat is maintained. 15 I use a gallon jar, but draped with a cloth to shield it from light.
- Fall '15
- Sandor Ellix Katz