Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cantina Dreams

Who doesn't love a cantina loaded with fine tasting spirits? It is such a strange and beautiful word... Cantina. Some would say that it is damn near perfect in the way it slips across the tongue - just like a fine tequila. Yet, how did these amazing establishments develop such a catchy title?

The use of the word cantina stretches back quite a ways through history. As early as 1710, the French used the word "cantine" to describe a sutler's shop. The sutler was a civilian merchant that sold supplies to soldiers stationed in the field. As a result, the word cantine/canteen came to mean a "small tin used to carry water or liquor by soldiers on the march." Perhaps another meaning derives from the Latin word canto, or "corner." This would put it closer to the Italian version of cantina which means "wine cellar or vault."

Of course, the word is also used widely in the Spanish-speaking world. This development came about during the latter half of the 16th Century. During this time, the Spanish Empire had large holdings of Renaissance Italy. An early usage of the word cantina was in a sonnet by Spanish poet Francisco Gómez de Quevedo y Santibáñez Villegas. As an aside, Francisco may have the most amazing name ever - Spanish or otherwise...

My two favorite cantinas:
Calle Guerrero, Cabo San Lucas, 23410, Mexico

Frequented by Sammy Hagar

Chalmun's Cantina (or Mos Eisley Cantina)
3324 Outer Kerner Way, Mos Eisley, Tatooine

Frequented by Han Solo