In spite of being the smallest state in Mexico, Tlaxcala has a great cultural tradition. Because of its climate and height, the state is the perfect setting for adventure sports and ecotourism, in addition, the vast plain is perfect for breeding bulls, agriculture and the cultivation of the maguey (agave Plant); a cactus whose name means “Tree of Marvels”, and from which one of the most exotic drinks, and of the greatest tradition in Mexico is extracted: the pulque.
Because of its origin and history, there are those who believe that Mexico’s traditional and iconic drink should be the pulque and not the Tequila. This natural nectar, which has been produced since pre-Hispanic times, is extracted from the maguey plant, a cactus prized by the ancient Indians who inhabited the territory of what is now know as the states of México, Hidalgo, Puebla and Tlaxcala.
Nothing is wasted from the Maguey, mixiote is obtained from its stalks: a fine vegetable cloth used in the preparation of several traditional Mexican dishes. In pre-Hispanic times it was used to produce canvases on which codices were painted. Its fiber, commonly known as ixtle (sisal), is used to make fabric and thread and ropes; it is also used as cattle feed, to protect the roof of the houses and its sap is used to help heal wounds.
How is pulque produced?
A stalk is a good candidate for producing pulque when it is between 8 and 12 years old. The heart is taken out to avoid further production of stalks; this procedure is called “castrating the maguey”. A type of pot forms inside, were the juice or “aguamiel” is stored, this is a sweet juice which, when fermented, produces pulque. A castrated maguey is able to produce between 10 to 16 liters of aguamiel a day, during a period of up to six months.
In pre-Hispanic times, pulque was considered a drink reserved exclusively for high priests and kings. Common men were only allowed to drink it during feasts, as the fact of being drunk could be punished by death. Upon the release of the pulque, during colonial times, a type of “pulque aristocracy” evolved, giving rise to the big haciendas producing large quantities of pulque, leading to the economic boom of Tlaxcala. Today, these haciendas are still standing, some have been restored to welcome guests, and others continue with their historical work of production. Come and visit them, take with you a little taste of Tlaxcala on your lips.