Today, our Eating and Drinking Poems post is less about making a delicious meal and more about relaxing in happy, open-hearted community. Today’s post from guest contributor Megan D. Willome requires little prep from the host, but demands a backyard, bug spray, and loud retellings of local legends. So order up some enchiladas and pack a cooler–this delicious meal lets you abandon the stove.
On Christmas Eve, my brother introduced me to Topo Chico, the famous sparkling Mexican mineral water. It was in a cooler on the back porch, along with the beer. Maybe you don’t serve beer on Christmas Eve. Maybe you don’t serve tamales either.
“Here. It’s the best, ” he said, opening a bottle.
He was right. You can keep your Perrier, your Apollinaris. For me, there’s only one sparkling mineral water. Hecho en Mexico. Since I live in Texas, that means it’s practically local.
Because I am, well, me, I read the label before I tasted it. The picture shows a man who has his face buried in a stream. When I went to the website, I learned he was Aztec, and I soon knew why I love Topo Chico — it comes with its own legend! Are you hooked yet? The princess, King Monctezuma’s daughter, was gravely ill back in 1440. The king consulted the priests, who told him that high in the mountains, there was a healing hot spring flowing from a mole-shaped hill. So, the king and the princess and their entourage made the journey to a spot near present-day Monterrey, Mexico. The princess drank and bathed. As usually happens in fairy tales, the magic water worked.
What if you could bottle and sell magic water? Would it improve your love life? Cause you to overcome illness and death? What if this sweet nectar was available at Walmart?
Actually, I like to picture Rumi strolling the aisles of Walmart, searching for Topo Chico. Maybe he’d drink it in the parking lot and be so inspired that he’d sit down — Rumi wouldn’t have a car, would he? — and write a poem. A poem like this one, which he wrote somewhere other than Walmart.
Any Soul That Drank the Nectar
Any soul that drank the nectar of your passion was lifted.
From that water of life he is in a state of elation.
Death came, smelled me, and sensed your fragrance
From then on, death lost all hope of me.
That’s what happened to the Aztec princess: Death lost all hope of her. It couldn’t stand up to the magic spring’s healing waters. I assume that after her deliverance the princess went forth and shared the “nectar of her passion” with that young man who has his face buried in the water on the Topo Chico label. And they lived happily ever after in a “state of elation, ” of course.
Topo Chico has not saved me from a grave illness, nor has it spiced up my bedroom. For me, this drink is all about family. At my grandmother’s recent 100th birthday party, we had mimosas and Topo Chico. It’s always in my dad’s fridge on a hot summer day. And on Christmas Eve, it’s served alongside the tamales.
At this point, you probably expect me to post a recipe for tamales. Uh, no. I don’t make tamales; I buy them. Although they are available at the grocery store year-round, I only crave them when there is a Christmas tree in the room. Warm tamales, a frosty Topo Chico, Feliz Navidad!
I tweeted my brother, “Imagine you have a cold Topo Chico. What do you want to be eating with it?” He tweeted back, “Extra Trashy Trailer Park taco from Torchy’s or brisket burnt-ends & baked squash from Mueller Meat Co!”
Topo Chico: it’s for whatever’s laying around … tacos, brisket, baked squash. And it’s water, so it’s good for what ails ya. Whether you’re a princess in distress or just distressed that you’re not a princess, trust Topo Chico, the only mineral water that always goes down well — Siempre cae bien — just like it says on the label.
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