Star-crossed lovers and tequila


Each week the staff at the Roseville Library answers more than 2,500 questions on every subject under the sun. Here is one a of the most interesting ones they’ve gotten lately.



Q. I read a great book, but I can’t remember the author or the exact title. It’s about a Jewish man and a Catholic woman who both have grown children from previous marriages.  The families are rivals in the florist business, so the couple dates secretly for a while but eventually their families find out. Can you help me find that book again?


A. Librarians get variations on this kind of question all the time. Readers remember a plot, but not the title or author, so they fear that they can never locate the book again.  Thanks to our access to databases and our ability to appeal to our colleagues’ collective memory of what they’ve read, librarians are actually pretty good at answering this type of query. In this case, the book you’re thinking of is “Julie and Romeo; a Novel” by Jeanne Ray. The library owns several copies of the book, and you’ll be happy to hear that there’s even a sequel — “Julie and Romeo Get Lucky.”  

(Library resources.) 



Q. Is it true that they put a worm in every single bottle of tequila?


A. No. Tequila is a type of mescal (sometimes spelled mezcal), a Mexican liquor distilled from the maguey or agave plant. The only type of mescal that contains a worm is specifically labeled “mescal con gusano” — mescal with worm, in Spanish. That said, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The “worm” in the bottle is actually the larva of a certain moth that lives at the base of the maguey plant. If an edible larva doesn’t sound any more appealing than a worm, you might consider that the Mexicans consider the larvae a delicacy and eat them as snack food. If that still doesn’t whet your appetite, then consider this: traditional mescal did not contain the larvae. The little bugs were added as a sales gimmick when the drink was first marketed extensively north-of-the-border during the 1950s. Most likely, the idea was to convince the gullible gringos that it took a real man to down a shot of wormy mescal. Surprisingly, the ad campaign must have worked, because half a century later mescal con gusano is still being produced.  

(“Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America.”)


Do you have a question for the staff at the Roseville Library? You can call them at 651-724-6001 or ask your question in person at the Information Desk, Roseville Library, 2180 Hamline Ave. Library hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

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