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Tequila: A Global History (Edible) Kindle Edition
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It is particularly descriptive about how tequila and mescals are made. Although the production process had been described to me in previous books, A Global History was much better illustrated and relatable. It doesn’t over romanticize the drinks and gives good account of the history of the development of the commercial versions of both tequila and mescal. There’s a very useful glossary in the back along with a few good drink and food recipes.
My only criticism is that the book was only published in 2015, but it already seems out-of-date with respect to tequila brands. A good addition would be to include a recap of brands and the manufacturing processes they employ.
This is the third book I’ve read on the subject of tequila, and if you can only read one, this should be it. I’m going to keep this book with me when I make my pilgrimage to Tequila so I review all the terms and do a knowledge refresh. Recommend the book highly!
Read more about my thoughts on tequila at allthingstequila.com
Much of the book concerns how what was once a cheap drink has become more and more upscale. This is among other things, a very impressive job of marketing, on the part of several firms and several remarkable risk-takers. These are rather livelier than examples in business school textbooks.
Mexico tightly regulates tequila and the closely related mescal, at least in theory. As with other things in Mexico, regulations are sometimes evaded. This is a sizable industry, with close to a billion dollars in Mexican exports to the USA, and more than that elsewhere. Chapter 2 describes marketing and branding, and is as noted a fascinating case study.
Chapter 3 describes the agave plant, often thought of and wrongly so as a cactus. It is more closely related to onions than to cactuses. The agave is finely evolved for much of the dry high Mexican terrain. The plant was used for intoxicating drinks by the Aztecs, under stringent conditions. Chapter 4 covers this with a couple of lively illustrations. Chapter 5 looks at the closely related mescal and Chapter 6 on where it is made. Chapter 8 looks at some family dynasties, a lively and complex and competitive social web.
After the main text the book has a dozen pages of recipes for drinks (and some foods).