April 10, 2016

"Mezcal is integral to life in Oaxaca. It is medicine and social glue. Spooked children have mezcal spat into their faces..."

"... rashy ones have mezcal rubbed onto their skin; fussy ones have it massaged into their gums. 'Mezcal is a way to welcome you home,' Ruiz told me. 'It makes you cry, sing, dance, hug the neighbor you just met an hour ago—and then your soul rests.' If your eyes are burning, if you said something insincere, if you have a hangover the next day, you are drinking mezcal wrong. One enthusiast I met, a Colombian woman whose extreme version of a dining club involves hunting for the main course, told me, 'You must kiss the mezcal.' Besides the j√≠cara [the dried hull of a fruit] the most popular vessel is a glass votive holder with a cross etched on the bottom. The first sip is mouthwash—harsh, disinfecting, functional. The second reveals the flavors. By the third, people are saying the word 'magic,' and it’s not that embarrassing. After another round, your mouth is fresh; your cheeks have turned to wax. You can sleep to the sound of fireworks—because it’s Tuesday in Oaxaca City—and wake up cheerful to unsynched church bells and crazed birds."

From "Mezcal Sunrise/Searching for the ultimate artisanal distillate" by Dana Goodyear in The New Yorker.

(Click through if only to see the excellent illustration by Bjorn Lie.)

11 comments:

David Begley said...

Excellent reason for open borders. We can't have enough intoxicants and their users.

Michael said...

Of course Mezcal is not "integral to life in Oaxaca." Chapulines are.

Fernandinande said...

I'm searching for the ultimate artisanal AA batteries.

Ann Althouse said...

"Excellent reason for open borders."

You should listen to the first part of the debate clip I put up in the first post of the debate. The glowing enthusiasm for immigration is entirely different from the usual American political discourse.

Bruce Gee said...

I was in the anthropological museum in Mexico City in late February, and saw this comment regarding "pulque":
"Pulque, neutl in Nahuatl, has a strong odor and alcoholic content. Its patron was the one God Tochtli, "Two Rabbit." In view of its caloric value, adults were only allowed one drink, and drunkenness was forbidden as the excess of pulque would make people fall under the influence of the Cenzon Totochtin, or Four Hundred Rabbits, which meant losing control and becoming aggressive and violent."

Pulque was the predecessor to techila, coming from the agave plant.

Bruce Gee said...

My son lives and teaches in Oaxaca; whenever we are there and out to dinner, mezcal is served along with the beer, perhaps to make the beer more drinkable. He has become adept at seeking out the very best, rarest mezcals, and serves them out in little drinking shells, a bit at a time. An acquired taste, really. I remember first trying it and describing the odor as "demons from hell escaping from the bottle". Since, I've either gotten used to the varied tastes--as varied as Scotches can be-- or am damned myself. Anyway, I love a good mezcal.

JSD said...

The variety of tequila and mescal carried at South Texas liquor stores is massive. Taking up an entire aisle, bigger than whisky. I would always bring back a few bottles to my friends back in New England as gifts. Especially the ones in bizarre decanters. But then we started drinking the stuff and discovered that it’s pretty good. Especially the anejo’s. It’s still a lot of hit and miss. Patron did a lot to rectify the damage done by Jose Cuervo, but there’s a whole world of tequila that’s yet to be discovered.

¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, pa' dentro!

Comanche Voter said...

When are moonshiners in the hills and hollows of Kentucky and the Carolinas going to get some love from the New Yorker? Hint---not in a very long time.

Anthony said...

A person I work with has a bunch of concord grapes growing at his house but he doesn't make wine out of it because people look down their noses at it. I told him to make some, put it in plain bottles, and then call it "artisanal" and "heirloom", jack up the price, and he'll sell it like hotcakes.

mikee said...

I learned long ago, as comedian Robin Williams once said, tequila is just a reason for committing arson.

dave1941 said...

Anthony, I've made some pretty strong wine out of my dad's concord grapes. All you need is grapes, water, sugar, and plastic jugs. Some people love it, some don't. I read of one guy who ships a few gallons of it to Germany every year, to oenophiles who want something exotic.