11
May
10

sciencing the frozen margarita

Duke University Press’ blog post about Gabriela Soto Laveaga’s Jungle Laboratories says that the book “challenges us to reconsider who can produce science.”

In a much lighter vein, I was reminded of that challenge this morning while reading Robb Walsh‘s recounting, in The Tex-Mex Cookbook, of Mariano Martinez’s invention of the frozen margarita machine. In 1971, Martinez relayed his diners’ complaints about his restaurant’s inconsistent margaritas to his bartender. The bartender, “sick of squeezing all those limes,” threatened to quit. Martinez found inspiration at a 7-11 the next morning and decided to automate–but he couldn’t get his hands on a Slurpee machine. Instead, he bought a soft-serve ice cream machine and began experimenting–or holding “a lot of tasting parties,” as he put it. The problem was how to get the alcoholic mix to freeze. Adding enough water to cause freezing diluted the drink too much, but adding more sugar… It turns out that “with a high enough brix level (the scientific measurement of sugar content), you can freeze quite a bit of alcohol.”

Mexican campesinos can certainly produce science, and so can tipsy Tex-Mex restaurateurs. Martinez never patented or trademarked his method, but his first margarita machine does have a place in the National Museum of American History.


In more serious news, US federal courts have been voiding clauses of BP’s exploitative clean-up contracts with Gulf fishermen left and right, preserving the fishermen’s rights to sue BP for damages from the Deepwater Horizon disaster and to talk freely about the situation, even if they do accept clean-up work from BP.

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