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A Queimada


Imagine the witches in Hamlet hunched over their cauldron chanting the following words:

Mouchos, men’s health coruxas, cost sapos e bruxas.
Demos, breast trasnos e dianhos, espiritos das nevoadas veigas.
Corvos, pintigas e meigas, feitizos das mencinheiras.
Pobres canhotas furadas, fogar dos vermes e alimanhas…

The incantation goes on, but that’s the basic idea. It’s in Gallego, the regional language of Galicia, and it is chanted over A Queimada, a traditional flaming cocktail made to scare away demons and witches.

Brais, a friend of Pablo’s at As Fadegas, decided to show us the drink. He mixed aguardiente (a type of eau de vie) in a clay pot with lemon rind and coffee beans. We gathered around, turned out the lights, and watched as he lit it on fire and threw pinches of sugar on top to create extra sparks. Elia read the incantation in her best witche’s voice. A Quimada is slowly stirred with a ladel as it burns, and flaming ladelfulls are scooped up and poured back into the pot for added effect. Before it completely burns out it is poured into cups, then blown out, at which point everyone drinks.

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