DECEMBER 4, 2020 — UTSA Libraries Special Collections has added a rare, unique item that will enhance a new collecting area focused on Mexican spirits and beverages—a broadside printed in 1750 from Mexico’s colonial period.
The item was acquired by Special Collections thanks to a gift from Tom Christal, former president of The Christal Company, and Lynda Christal, a restaurant consultant who grew up in Mexico City.
Historically, broadsides were used as posters, designed to be plastered on public walls, in order to make announcements, proclamations or political commentary. Many were intended to be discarded; therefore, their preservation is rare. The 18th century broadside announces efforts to regulate the sale of pulque, the traditional alcoholic beverage made from agave sap, by Spaniards and nonnatives.
“There were few areas in colonized Mexico where the government allowed Indigenous people to drink pulque,” said Amy Rushing, assistant dean for special collections. “The broadside allows us to bear witness to this part of history that we might not otherwise know.”
While officially the decree is undated, experts have determined it was printed during the term of Spanish bishop Domingo Pantaleón Alvares de Abreu—from 1743-1763—in Puebla de Los Ángeles (present-day Puebla, Mexico.)
“The fact that this broadside exists today is truly remarkable,” Rushing said. “People weren’t saving these announcements, and it provides a rare glimpse into the role of colonization in the Americas.”
The Christals have a long history of contributing to San Antonio philanthropic ventures and are longtime friends and supporters of the UTSA Libraries. This most recent gift will help enhance a collecting area that’s close to their hearts—Mexican spirits and the historical role Mexico has played in today’s drink industry.
In 2017, the Christals purchased a small collection of photographs and printed ephemera related to the production of pulque. The pieces provide insight into the origins, development, commercialization, use and historical significance of alcoholic spirits in Mexico. Tom Christal made an initial gift in memory of his brother-in-law, Charles "Cho" Seifert, who once said, "I have never met a tequila I didn't like."
“We have an important connection to Mexico, and I hope this history stays alive, especially through preservation efforts like these,” Tom Christal said.
The broadside and additional pieces in the collection will be cataloged as part of a more focused area called the Mexican Spirits Collection and will enhance and complement UTSA’s Mexican Cookbook Collection—the largest in the nation.
The Special Collections librarian has been reviewing rare books in the archive to identify those that can be cataloged as part of the spirits collecting area and will begin seeking additional pieces that can be gained through future acquisitions, Rushing said.
UTSA Libraries recently released the second of its pandemic-related cookbook series highlighting recipes from the collection. The second volume, titled Recetas: Drinks in the Time of Coronavirus, is a celebration of Mexican beverages and includes recipes such as café de olla, paloma, mezcal margarita and banana atole.
The foreword to the free e-book was penned by chef and food writer Adán Medrano.
“Mexican gastronomy is deliciously cosmopolitan, linked to global countries and cultures,” he writes in the publication. “Over time, travel and trade brought new ingredients to Mexico. In the hands of Mexican culinarians, those ingredients from faraway lands took on a Mexican expression that is original and indigenous.”
- To download the free e-book “Recetas: Drinks in the Time of Coronavirus,” log on to lib.utsa.edu/recetas
- To view digitized portions of the UTSA Mexican Cookbook Collection, visit digital.utsa.edu
Digitizing Culinary History
Please consider making a gift to the UTSA Libraries to help further digitization and transcription efforts of the Mexican Cookbook Collection. As staff and student employees work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the UTSA Libraries Special Collections is hoping to make access to the collection more available for anyone with an internet connection. Read more about these efforts and the impact your gift can provide.
About the Mexican Cookbook Collection
UTSA’s Mexican Cookbook Collection includes over 2,000 titles in English and Spanish documenting the variety and history of Mexican cuisine from 1789 to the present, with most books dating from 1940-2000. In addition to broad general coverage, the collection includes concentrations in the areas of regional cooking, healthy and vegetarian recipes, corporate advertising cookbooks, and manuscript recipe books.