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Cusha: Guatemalan Spirit Made With Cow Dung

by Jack Guy

Sep 8, 2018

Guatemala © Hartemink | Dreamstime.com

Trends / Food & Drink

Ask a Guatemalan what the traditional alcoholic drink is in their country and they might say Quetzalteca. This brand of sugarcane alcohol, known as aguardiente, is certainly one of the best known, but there is an even more traditional drink made in Mayan indigenous communities.

Cusha is a home-brewed spirit produced using corn, and has been for thousands of years. It was traditionally used in ancient rituals, during which shamans would spit the drink over participants thanks to its healing powers.

These days it is still made in small batches in the home, using a secret ingredient. It is said many people use a small piece of fabric filled with cow dung to accelerate the fermentation process. If that doesn’t put you off trying some, there are other factors to consider, too.

As a moonshine, cusha has no fixed recipe. This means some versions can be incredibly strong, so strong they can have adverse effects on your health. It’s not uncommon for people to go blind after drinking a bad batch, so you should carefully consider your options if you are offered some cusha.

That said, it is an important part of traditional celebrations in Mayan communities, and you might be offered some. If you do want to try it, take a small sip and don’t overdo it.




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