Rompope, the Nuns’ Drink
Drinks like rompope exist in a number of places around the globe: in the United States, it’s known as eggnog; for the Dutch it’s advocaat, and in Spain there’s rompón.
In Mexico, however, rompope took on a personality all its own, and that was thanks to the nuns. Now you’re probably wondering how that happened.
It all started, in 1524, when Franciscan monks came to New Spain. They went around putting up new temples where they could spread the gospel, quite a few convents among them.
Puebla de los Ángeles became a major bastion for those Franciscans. As the city on the way to the metropolis, for travelers coming from the Atlantic, it was a key meeting place for both Spaniards and Creoles in positions of power.
Traders, clergymen, soldiers and politicians spent days in Puebla, and they had to be lavished with the most exquisite dishes.
In their convent, the Clarissa nuns developed a liqueur with eggs, cinnamon, sugar, almonds and rum or cane liquor: Spanish rompón with a mestizo touch gave rompope its unique character.
The nuns made the rompope without ever tasting it, since they were strictly forbidden from imbibing.
Only one mestiza nun, by the name of Eduviges, was allowed to taste and tweak it.
After having improved the product’s flavor, Eduviges asked the bishop to allow all her fellow nuns to try a little. “A nip a day does no one any harm,” she said, and that convinced him.
Besides pleasure and joy, the rompope provided the Clarissas with a livelihood: by selling it, they got money for congregation improvements.
Nowadays, Mexico has a huge range of rompopes, from commercial brands to handmade versions, and it comes in special flavors, like pine nut, coffee, pecan and strawberry, made in Colima.
Besides being sipped in little glasses, rompope is also used in baking: for cakes, ice cream, cookies and gelatins. And its fame has stretched to many countries in Central and South America.
Mexican nuns keep on making and drinking innocent nips of rompope. And if you ask them for their secret recipes, you can be sure they will never give it to you.
What other Mexican beverages can you recommend?