Mamajuana, The Potion with Dominican Enthusiasm
Just take a walk for the Colonial area of Santo Domingo or any craft market of some beach in the country to realize that “mamajuana” is more than a typical drink of the Dominican Republic, it is a series of stories locked in a bottle. Some benefits are ascribed to it like a cure for a cold and some people call it the Dominican viagra.
Mamajuana consists in soaking in a bottle roots, leaves and bark of endemic trees of the island to which red wine, rum and honey are added. They are removed after a “maceration” process of about seven to ten days to get the rum of your preference. Thus, the liquor takes the sweet and flavoured taste that characterizes this drink; and according to popular belief, the more years the same sticks and leaves are used, the better the result of drinking.
They are placed into bottles of different sizes which are often decorated with a handmade work done on leather. The most popular bottle is the one containing roots and bark of guayacán, clavo dulce, pega palo, maguey, timacle, marabelí, ginger, juana la blanca, palo de brazil, anamú, albahaca, anís and raisins among others ‘sticks’ as these ingredients are called in the Caribbean country.
However, sellers recommend, if you want to improve aphrodisiac effects, the one that includes shellfish such as clams, lambí (snail), octopus, shark cartilage, oysters and a luxury ingredient: carey penis, a sea turtle, which by the way is in danger of extinction.
Ready to Drink
Since some years ago, the “Mamajuana” is also offered as liquor ready to drink in similar presentations to those of Dominican rum but most of the people have the habit of acquiring the bottle and “prepare” their own “miracle” drink.
American, Chinese, Japanese, Dominican, Spanish tourists, and from everywhere come here (...) Italians love it,” says Mario that immediately lists a number of roots and seafood confirming that they are in the bottles he sells.
According to traders of this product its origin goes back to the time of the Tainos, who gathered different roots and boiled them. This potion cured illnesses such as headaches and colds. It is not known for sure at what moment in history Dominicans began to give it aphrodisiac powers.
As for the name, the most usefull version says that is a derivation of the French bottle “dame-jeanne”, where presumably it was first made. “The history refers to the story that tells how the Queen Juana I of Nápoles, after protecting from a storm in the workshop of a Maestro glassmaker, was interested in bottles manufacturing” It seems that the queen tried to make her own bottle and, blowing strongly, she could make one of ten liter capacity. This bottle received the name of “dame-jeanne” or “demijohn”. Later, the pronunciation changed the letter “d” to “m” and was like “mamajuana”.
Being aphrodisiac or not, both locals and strangers like “Mamajuana” that symbolizes the warmth breathing in the Dominican Republic, a country which everyone associates with the name of the drink.
TEXTO: Geizel Torres; IMÁGENES:Suresh