why do they put the worm in tequila
What is the origin of the worm at the bottom of a bottle of the Mexican drink Mescale? A NATIVE of Guadelajara, Senor Jaime Alvarez, gave me the following explanation: without the benefits of laboratory conditions, distillers of Tequila in the last century needed some means to test their product. The Agave worm was dropped into the tequila and a basic rule of thumb was that if the worm was still wriggling when it hit the bottom of the bottle, the liquor was safe to drink.
If the worm died on the way down, the tequila was deemed unfit for human consumption. The legendary hallucinogenic benefits of eating the worm stem from the fact that the Agave worm feeds on the peyote cactus, from which the drug mescalin is refined. I WAS on a course earlier this year with the vice-president of one of Mexico's largest drinks companies, and I asked her this same question.
Apparently, the indigenous Mexican 'Indians', who discovered the process of distilling the juice of the Agave cactus, did indeed eat the worms that live in the cactus. However, the business of putting one in the bottle is an entirely new development dreamed up by the marketing men: it allows 'macho' types to show off to each other and their girlfriends by eating the worm.
The 'tradition' is pure invention.
The other variety of "worm" in mezcal is the of a known as picudo del agave, the agave snout weevil, that infests certain species of and. They are not related to edible (which are, in reality, moth larvae) of central. The weevil is a pest that can severely damage plants, by eating the plant to death from the inside.
If only a few infest the plant, they can still carry and infect the plant with harmful leading to plant death. In some cases, up to 40% of a maguey harvest has been lost to weevil infestations. Infection-resistant varieties of the plant are being developed. Picudo larvae may be roasted and eaten; they are a seasonal specialty of markets in southeastern Mexico.
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