About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Love Potion a la Mexicana

Reading Oscar Lewis' classic - and occasionally controversial - Tepoztlan: Village in Mexico. I probably took note of the section on love potions more this last week than most because I had just finished Ben Vinson and Matt Restall's book Black Mexico which had a big section on Afro-Mayan magic in the Yucatan and the uses of menstrual blood in chocolate. Anyway, Lewis has a passage on the use of toloache - a lovely little white flower with some questionable side effects. Says Lewis:
The most commonly feared type of sorcery is a potion made from ta well-known herb called toloache, secretly dropped into a man's coffee or any other drink. This herb is said to contain a drug that will affect the brain if taken in large doses. In Tepoztlan it is also believed that it will make a man tonto - that is, stupid or foolish and easily managed - and that an extra large dose will make him an idiot. The most important symptom to Tepoztecans is that the drugged man can no longer control his wife but is dominated by her. (58)
Good fun. I googled toloache and found out that a cafe in NYC is named after the plant - perhaps they use the flower as a strategy to get cafe goers to pay NYC prices for tacos.

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