In secluded and little-known coastal harbours south of Liverpool there lives a community of wizards whose religion foretells the long-awaited second coming of a rogue Portuguese naval captain named João Baptista. On his first appearance in the early sixteenth century, the black-bearded, peg-legged João both impressed and divided his English hosts by claiming that he had “found the East by sailing West.” Those who later joined his cult were the laughingstock of Middle English wizardry, owing to a chorus of strange beliefs: that the Earth is round, that it is millions of years older than is widely known today, and that the Portuguese Navy is superior to that of Spain.
João Baptista praised the sacred hippogriff for its glorious two-tone meats, bittersweet milk, and its plump eggs, which seemed sometimes to emerge already soft-boiled. In exchange for two of the animals, he gave them a sacred beverage “made from the blessed blood of the Christ of the East.” The clear golden liquid—called “teka ylaa” by the East Indians—was lauded for its capacity to cure consumption (now known as tuberculosis) and boredom. João offered proof of the spirit’s divine status, by showing that it could kill tapeworms, a fact clearly announced with the inclusion of one at the bottom of each bottle…sullen, dejected, and “diminish’d in stature frum its contact withe the elixir.”
João Baptista left forty casks of the liquid with his new acolytes, and this was expected to last them the forty years until his second coming, which—we hardly need to tell you—signified the end of days.
And don’t they wish those casks had lasted through the next winter! A sudden shortage of the fancy Eastern drink called for painful emergency measures: substituting its precious imbibement with an incantation, sung in unison while preparing the yield of the Manchester Folio’s fine taco recipe.
It takes only a few drops of tequila per taco, an economization that we hope for his devotees’ sake made less painful the agonizing wait for João Baptista’s return.