Pulque in danger of disappearing, expert warns

Pulque has been part of the economy of indigenous people since the pre-Hispanic era.
Photo: File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
Mexico City
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Pulque, an alcoholic beverage traditional to central Mexico and produced for millennia, is at risk of disappearing due to the scarcity of agave harvesting, warned Lydia Patricia Martínez Madrid, a researcher at the Coordination of Cultural Heritage and Research of the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous People (CDI).

After participating in the presentation of the book "Pulque," she acknowledged that this situation persists despite the interest in reviving the so-called "beverage of the gods." "The problem (...) is that there is no agave," she said.

The researcher considered that one of the dangers stems from the fact that agave leaves are used for the preparation of mixiote, a traditional pit-barbecued meat dish.

She explained that the maturation of the plant takes from 8 to 10 years and agave nectar can only be extracted for 6 months because it is over after that period, but in that span of time "mixioteros" deforest the plantations.

Regarding the consequences of climate change, the author of the book denied that the phenomenon represents a risk because the agave plant is resistant and has the capacity to endure it.

According to the third publication of the series "Food and Beverage of Mexican Indigenous People," farmers have also chosen to grow barley, for example, because they receive more income in a shorter time.

"All this, together with the adoption of soft drinks and beer, led to the decline of the former pulque industry," reads the book presented by the CDI's head, Nuvia Mayorga Delgado, in the Exhacienda Santiago Chimalpa.

The author of "Pulque" said that the situation could be reversed by protecting agave areas because the plant has a vegetative reproduction that allows it to proliferate.

"It is a matter of consciousness and knowing that we must take care of the agave," said Martínez Madrid, emphasizing that that is precisely the intention of the book: to remember the process, the value and the role of indigenous people in the preservation of the plant.

Nuvia Mayorga indicated that the CDI will destine resources to boost the production of pulque in central Mexico. That is because pulque has been part of the economy of indigenous people since the pre-Hispanic era.


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