Restaurant menus, as we know them today, are a relatively new phenomenon.
Currently, pulque is produced, sold and consumed in popular districts of Mexico City and rural areas. In this contribution, we review the traditional pulque production process, including the microbiota involved in the biochemical changes that take place during aguamiel fermentation.
We discuss the historical relevance and the benefits of pulque consumption, its chemical and nutritional properties, including the health benefits associated with diverse lactic acid bacteria with probiotic potential isolated from the beverage. Finally, we describe the actual status of pulque production as well as the social, scientific and technological challenges faced to preserve and improve the production of this ancestral beverage and Mexican cultural heritage.
Introduction The role of maize in the origin of humans as described in the Popol Vuh, the sacred Maya book, together with the betrayal of the Toltec god Quetzalcoatl by Tezcatlipoca -the omnipresent god of the night who sees everything- are the two favorite stories of Mesoamerican mythology.
Quetzalcoatl was ruined and had to exile after a ridicule behavior due to an excess of pulque intake. Both maize and pulque were key in the cosmological vision in Mesoamerica: Both Quetzalcoatl and Mayahuel -the Mexican nurturing mother- came to Earth to sing and dance to escape from paradise and to adopt the form of tree branches.
Quetzalcoatl, whose branch was not destroyed, buried Mayahuel with great sadness. However, the Agavaceae Family is very much older than pre-hispanic mythology, its origin dating back to about 10 million years ago Good-Avila et al. Agave is a proliferous Family with nine known genera, comprising species, most of them still present in Mexico.
Agaves belong to the Amarilidaceas order and are endemic to Mexico. A restricted number of species are devoted to pulque including A.
Agave species used for aguamiel extraction and pulque production. Among others, he mentions Ometochtli who for the Aztecs was also the god of drunkenness, also associated with plant fertility and the wind.
While most documents place the most probable origin of pulque in the ancient Otomi civilization toward the year BC, archeological evidence indicates that hunters and gatherers used maguey thousands of years ago Jennings et al.
Recent organic evidence shed new light on pulque history.
In effect, although chemical components of this alcoholic beverage are water-soluble, limiting their conservation, hydrophobic lipids of food residues are more stable, Correa-Ascencio et al.
The presence of hopanes as bacterial markers of pulque, demonstrate that this beverage was produced in the ancient city of Teotihuacan and opens a new avenue of research for a systematic analysis to establish the level and intensity of pulque production and consumption in this culture Correa-Ascencio et al.
During the height of the Aztec culture, pulque was produced and consumed preponderantly in religious and sacred rituals. It was restricted to the common citizens, with strict rules limiting its consumption.
Excessive consumption was severely punished, in some cases including the capital punishment, even for priests. By —, before the Mexican Independence War, pulque production and consumption was forbidden as it became a major health and social problems among the Indians.
However, the economic relevance of maguey during the Spaniard Colony forced the authorities in to end the prohibition period as, despite the ban, pulque production competed with European wines and sugar cane liquor controlled by Spaniards Lorenzo Monterrubio, The presence of sulfites in alcoholic beverages, particularly in wines, can cause allergic responses with symptoms ranging from mild gastrointestinal problems to .
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