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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 70.djvu/221

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THE CENTURY PLANT

PSM V70 D221 A man and his donkey.pngFig. 8. Man and Donkey. Sometimes flowering is permitted, and the plant yields nothing more than a light rafter-pole, capable of being sliced into good razor-strops, a little green fodder for the cattle, and a few dried leaves that may be used for thatching a hut. At other times the stalk, or 'quiote,' is cut down before the flowers have too far sapped it, stripped of its woody exterior, and cut into disks a few inches long which may be PSM V70 D221 Frothing from a gourd.pngFig. 10. Frothing from a Gourd. seen peddled around the streets in Durango, for instance—to be split into strips and chewed like sugarcane. If a distillery is at hand, the leaves are often cut away from a plant of this sort, or one that has not been allowed to form its quiote, above their very thick 'pencas' or bases, and the trunk, so prepared, is marketable for the manufacture of mezcal. From data obtained of a peon, I once figured out that away from the principal pulque region the value of a plant is practically the same whether cut for agua miel or, after harvesting its quiote, sold to the mezcal distillery. PSM V70 D221 Where pulque is sold.pngFig. 9. Where Pulque is Sold.

 

Mezcal is a term applied comprehensively to the liquor obtained by distillation from the fermented juices of agaves. Four or five million gallons of it a year are produced, and its value may amount to some $2,000,000 gold. The center for the manufacture of this beverage is to the west of Guadalajara, and the town of Tequila, situated there, has imposed its name on the higher grade of liquor, which is clear, smoky, rather smooth, and with a characteristic essential flavor; it usually contains forty or fifty per cent, of