Book Bites is Cooking the Books‘ more easygoing cousin. Authors talk about their book and share a recipe, all in one tasty bite.
You may know Stephen Blackmore as a purveyor of dark and strange horoscopes on twitter. Or by his fantastic enthusiasm for all things … fantastic.
We know him as an extremely good guy and an excellent writer, especially his latest, Hungry Ghosts, which hit the stands last week!
Today, Stephen’s dropped by Book Bites to talk about a drink of the gods. (21 and over, this one.) Welcome, Stephen!
HUNGRY GHOSTS, my third Eric Carter urban fantasy novel about a modern-day necromancer who makes stunningly bad life choices, takes place, for the most part, in Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead. He’s gone to kill Mictlantecuhtli and Mictecacihuatl, the king and queen of the dead to free himself from a curse and because he’s really pissed off at both of them.
The Aztecs took their gods seriously. They sacrificed men and women to Huitzilopochtli, god of the sun, skinned their enemies for Xipe-Totec, the flayed god of Spring. And they worshipped Mayahuel, who was associated with the maguey (agave) plant, which gave the Aztecs all sorts of useful things, like their sacred alcoholic drink, iztāc octli (roughly “white liquor”).
Iztāc octli was reserved for the priesthood and the nobility and its brewing was considered a sacred rite. But these days you can buy fresh brewed iztāc octli all over the place in Mexico. In bars, on street corners, out of those big, orange drink coolers dragged along in the back of a red, Radio Flyer wagon. Hell, you can even get it in cans, though I wouldn’t recommend it.
These days it goes by the name pulque.
Pulque is a slightly viscous (slimy) milky-white (jizz-colored), yeasty (unwashed jockstraps), alcoholic (only redeeming quality) drink made from the maguey plant. Pulque is, shall we say, an acquired taste. I’ve smelled it. I have not drunk it. I will not drink it.
The Spanish came up with the name pulque. Doesn’t sound at all like iztāc octli, does it? But it does sound like octli poliuhqui, which means “rotten liquor”. Defy your oppressors any way you can, right?
Anyway, if you are brave and/or foolish and like to brew your own beer, you can make pulque. There are quite a few recipes out there. If you’re considering this then presumably you know how to brew beer. I don’t so I’m not even going to try to give you directions. That’ll just end in tragedy for one of us and comedy for the other.
But I can give you a list of ingredients.
Drink of the Gods
7 Pints of Maguey Sap
1 and 1/2 pounds of sugar
3/4 teaspoon of Acid Blend
1 teaspoon of Pectic Enzyme
1 teaspoon of Yeast Nutrient
1/4 teaspoon of Grape Tannin
1 Campden tablet
5 Grams of Red Star Montrachet Yeast
And may the gods have mercy on your soul.
Stephen Blackmoore is the author of the Eric Carter series of noir urban fantasy novels DEAD THINGS, BROKEN SOULS, and HUNGRY GHOSTS, as well as a prequel to the series, CITY OF THE LOST and MYTHBREAKER, a novel for the Abaddon series Gods & Monsters.
He has written tie-in fiction for the role-playing game Spirit of The Century, the video-game Wasteland 2 and the television series Heroes Reborn. His short stories can be found online at Fireside Magazine, Plots With Guns and in the anthologies DEADLY TREATS and UNCAGE ME. He co-hosts the bi-monthly crime fiction reading series Noir At The Bar L.A.
(many thanks to the indomitable Kate for help with this post!)