Mexico’s National Drinks: Pulque, Tequila and the Temporalities of Authenticity

2020-02-25T16:07:39Z (GMT) by Deborah F. Toner
This article analyses the changing representation of pulque and tequila as Mexico’s national drinks across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to demonstrate how different temporal concepts and historical narratives organize time in the construction of authenticity.Firstly, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, stories about the origins of pulque in the pre-colonial Indigenous past created a framework of genealogical time to celebrate Mexico’s ancient roots as a nation or to lament obstacles to national progress. Secondly, from the 1940s to the 1970s, the depiction of pulque as Mexico’s authentically national drink depended on a through-time continuum in which pulque featured as an element of the national cuisine that remained unchanged since time immemorial. Thirdly, in the latet wentieth century, pulque became subject to a nostalgic historical narrative of decline. At the same time, tequila’s representation as the authentically national drink became more established, through a combination of temporalities that conferred both ancient status and futurity. I argue that authenticity is most powerful as a temporal construct when it combines ahistorical, historical and future-oriented temporalities.

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