Malachite’s Big Hole
The Shuck Cigarillo:
In impoverished colonies of Mexico tobacco was customarily smoked as a shuck cigarillo, not in a pipe as the Americans at that time preferred, or the paper rolled cigarettes of Old Mexico. The shuck is a rectangular piece of material cut from corn husk.
Lewis Garrard (Reference) visited Taos in 1847 and described rolling and lighting shuck cigarillos as follows: "After breakfast, the ladies [these particular ladies were the daughters of Ceran St. Vrain with whom Garrard was lodging] rolled up several shuck cigarillos, which they presented with smiles and a persuasive “Senior?” I did not refuse. The shucks are dried and cut in slips, one and a half inches broad by three in length; then moistened, to prevent splitting, by putting it in the mouth, and drawing out with compressed lips. The tobacco of the country-bland and fragrant-is sprinkled on one edge, and, with a sleight-o’-hand motion of the fingers, rolled up. The ends are pinched, to retain the contents. In the pocket is carried a roll of raw cotton the size of a common goosequill, bound with calico, which, with the flint and steel in every one’s possession, is produced, and, with a dexterous blow, fire imparted from which the cigarillo is lit. A tin tube thee inches long, is fitted to the cotton, and when the shuck lights, the burning roll is drawn in the tube; and, by placing a finger on the end to preclude the air, the fire is extinguished, leaving a cinder to which the steel spark imparts its fire. Some use a silver, or even a gold tube; while the poor pelados have to content themselves with a tin one, or nothing."