Won’t somebody think of the worms? Time was, a worm in a bottle of tequila was all the rage, everybody loved the tequila worms. They proved it was all natural and made of agave plant, not something brewed up in a lab.
Some said they were aphrodisiacs. Some said they were hallucinogenic. Agave farms needed to patrol their borders to protect the plants from rogue worm poachers.
But they have fallen from favour, the humble worms, and are no longer en vogue in the fashionable places. It’s been pointed out they have no specific active properties, and are really nothing but a worm.
It has been mentioned that tequila proper (which is specifically only made from the blue agave plant)is worm-free, and that you only find it in mescal, which is made from any agave plant in Mexico.
So really there was never any such thing as a tequila worm.
Worms started to be added to cheap mescal in the 1950’s as a marketing ploy to encourage sales through novelty value. Although mescal is making a comeback in a big way now and has really overtaken tequila in the sophistication stakes, quality producers wouldn’t stoop to add worms to their bottles.
Another little bit of magic gone from the world. Future generations will shake their heads and smile at the silly quaint habits of their grandparents as they flip through vintage pictures of nightclubs with people smoking fags and knocking back shots of worm-infested booze whilst playing vinyl records. Oh, wait. They look back and laugh at that now 😦
The ideal time to drink mescal is during the Day of The Dead festivities – the ancient Aztec celebration of the dead, where the Queen of the Underworld – the goddess Mictecacihuatl – holds sway and people party in the cemetery.
If you haven’t gone the traditional route of saving the skulls of departed family members in order that you can decorate them with marigold wreaths and make offerings of cigarettes, coca leaves and alcohol at this time of year, fear not.
You can still celebrate in your own way, and in doing, assist your deceased beloveds on their spiritual journey, which is what this is really all about.
Drink a mezcal cocktail, and bake the Bread of the Dead.
1 shot ginger liqueur (I used Canton)
1/2 shot lime juice
1/2 shot apple juice (I used an apple/ginger juice)
dash Agave syrup
Cinnamon & apple slice to garnish
Combine ingredients in chilled shaker, and shake until your bones rattle. Strain into chilled glass. Dust with cinnamon, and pop an apple slice on the side.
Pan de Muertos (bread of the dead)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cups water with orange blossom water
5 to 5 1/2 cups plain flour, divided
2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons whole anise seed or replace water with absinthe
1/2 cups granulated sugar
Dash orange juice mixed with 1 egg yolk
Extra sugar for dusting breads
Combine butter, milk and water/absinthe in a pan and warm through without boiling.
Combine flour, yeast, salt, 1/2 cup sugar, and anise seed if you are using it. I couldn’t find anise seed so I substituted absinthe for water, and it came out really well.
Stir in wet ingredients, then beat in eggs one at a time. When you have a workable dough, knead it for approx. 10 minutes until perfectly smooth. Then let it rest and rise in a lightly greased bowl in a warm place for 1-2 hours, depending on how fast it rises. Keep covered with clingfilm or a damp cloth.
When it has doubled in size, knead again, and form rolls with the dough on baking sheets with baking paper linings. Traditional forms are skull & crossbones, tears (of the goddess Mictecacihuatl, rabbits & bones.
Let them rise again in a warm place, again covered with cloth or film, then glaze with orange juice and egg yolk, and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 20- 30 minutes depending on the size of your rolls at 350 degrees F.
“From my rotting body, flowers shall grow, and I am in them, and that is eternity.” -Edvard Munch
It’s very important to celebrate in your own way. We chose to honour our dead at a party in a car park in Dalston given by 40ft Brewery.
Cocktails were provided using Cold & Blac and Quiquiriqui mezcal: “He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us more potent – nay, more present – than the living man.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery