Ξ May 1st, 2009 | → 2 Comments | ∇ A Day at a Time, International Terroirs, Wine News |
As many regular readers know, I’ve recently returned from a Caribbean cruise. Among our ports of call was a small island, Cayo Levantado, off the north coast of the Dominican Republic. We dropped anchor just off the coast, in the Samana Bay, and were ‘tendered’ by small craft to a homely dock on the island. Of course we were greeted by happy locals in ‘traditional’ dress singing at the top of their lungs. I was among the first boatloads to arrive. I cannot imagine the energy required of the singers nor how deep their reservoir of good will to keep up the show with over a thousand tourists yet to dock.
Cayo Levantado is renowned world-wide for its blinding, white beaches. It is a sparse, simple paradise much beloved by a certain kind of dispirited soul, urban dwellers in the main, seeking relief from their grim concrete realities. I went for very different reasons and so found myself a stranger to the hot clime. But I welcomed the new world and I began to immediately to explore. Among the great many surprises was the extreme quality of the local art scene. Known as ‘naive’ in the art world, the island offered a staggering variety of brilliant glimpses of island life behind the facade of sunny, native bliss. Absent photos I’ll not go on, but rest assured an art dealer would do well to visit the palm leaf-roofed huts and clapboard shanties for these treasures.
The other surprise, the point of this post, was a medicinal curative called Mama Juana. Usually found in finished form, ready for drinking, the version I stumbled upon was of the ingredients alone, bark, wood chips and herbs, all in bags, but I found one single bottling of the same. The drink is said to do many things, cure many ailments: Sinusitis, kidney complaints, stomach aches, ulcers, assorted venereal diseases, and what brought forth the latter, sexual augmentation, a kind of local viagra.
The ingredients? I really couldn’t say though a wikipedia entry on this concoction includes this traditional mix:
Anamú (Petiveria alliacea)
Bohuco (Cissus verticillata)
Canelilla (Cinnamodendron ekmanii)
Maguey (Agave spp.) leaves
Preparation is quite simple. Although advice varies, I was told to first fill the bottle of bark, wood and herbs with wine. Let it sit for a week. Then dump out only the wine. Next add honey and rum. Let rest for a few days. Drink!
I will prepare the drink and, provided I survive, I’ll report back on the results (with discretion) and I will post tasting notes.