Tequila: A Global History (Edible)
Author, writer and broadcaster Ian Williams is Vice President of the Foreign Press Association, is a regular contributor to the Guardian and the Tribune. He has also contributed o the Daily Telegraph, the Financial times, The European, the Observer and the Independent. He has authored several books on political and drinking topics. In Tequila: A Global History (Edible) Williams tackles the alcoholic beverage long associated with binge drinking, spring break excess, fraternity parties, and brutal hangovers. Williams cleans it up a it and gives the drink new dimensions. He takes us to Mexico and digs up the history and legend of that nation's iconic spirit. Williams suggests that the distillation of fermented agave might predate the colonial era. We learn about agave and how it became the food and drink of the gods and filtered down to the common man. Williams clarifies the mythology of mescal and takes us to the heart of the province of Tequila were we learn how the spirit is made and who makes it. His discussion on the impact of oak aging on tequila is good. He also clarifies the differences and similarities between mescal and emphasizes that the differences between the two beverages reflect a social as well as a technical and geographical divide. Williams provides recipes for several tequila based cocktails and finishes up with a quick review of some of the available tequilas. Williams is good on the unique history of the agave plant and also provides a good discussion of pulque. I spent an evening drinking home brewed pulque in Mazatlan and spent the better part of the next day suffering its consequences. He also gives a good, brief discussion of other agave based spirits. Williams gives a good dscription of agave's unique environmental requirements and cautions us about the potential impacts of climate change to the plant upon which all tequila and mescal depend. Williams gets a little confused trying to distinguish mescal from hallucinogenic mescaline, the chemical that gives peyote it mind altering qualities. He notes that peyote is a fungus - it is not. It is a cactus. Despite a couple of minor errors, Williams writes well and this book gives the novice with an interest in tequila a good place to start.