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Posts Tagged ‘maguey’

Yesterday, friends from California invited me to accompany them on one of their favorite pastimes — going to the source for artisanal mezcal. At our first stop, the palenque of Félix Ángeles Arellanes, Mezcal El Minerito, we were just in time to watch the beginning of the process of cooking the agave piñas.

The art of making mezcal at the palenque, Mezcal El Minerito.

Piling river rocks onto the red and white hot coals in the earthen pit that functions as the horno (oven).

Covering the rocks with bagaso (recycled crushed agave fibers).

Putting the long tobasiche agave piñas into the oven.

Adding the more rounded jabalí and tobalá piñas.

Topping it off with more tobasiche piñas.

Covering the piñas with more bagaso.

Félix’s sons worked nonstop — an hour and fifteen minutes from the time of the first photo, they covered the mound with tarps to enclose the oven. Though we didn’t see it, I suspect this was then sealed with soil.

Félix pours the “Nectar of the Gods” — a multilayered and complex artisanal mezcal.

Nothing like being at the right place at the right time. And, yes, we not only watched, we tasted and we bought!

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While scientists were in the process of identifying four new species of agave, an agave on my terrace…

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June 28, 2017

… had a surprise of its own.

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July 23, 2017

Seemingly overnight, from its center, a stalk (aka, quiote) began reaching toward the sky.

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July 23, 2017

After awhile, buds began appearing along the sides of the stalk.

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September 18, 2017

And from the buds, the rainy season brought blossoms.

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September 27, 2017

The flowers opened from bottom to top.

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October 21, 2017

Eventually, all the flowers browned and seed pods began forming.

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November 19, 2017

Who knows what I will find when I return to Casita Colibrí next week.  What I do know is that this agave is now dying — but there are plantlets waiting to replace it!  By the way, quiotes have traditionally been used for firewood (Maybe for my chiminea?) and even to make a didgeridoo-like musical instrument.  (Hmmm… I don’t think I’ll try the latter.)

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Friday, I went Teotitlán del Valle to visit a friend.  N is living out in the campo and it was an adventure just getting there — necessitating a colectivo, bus, moto-taxi, and a fair amount of walking.  However, it was well worth it!  The conversation was non-stop, comida was delicious, and the setting is spectacular.

El Picacho from rooftop terrace.

El Picacho from my friend’s rooftop terrace.

However, a major topic of conversation in the village is the lack of rain.  Granted, I was grateful the creek the 3-wheel moto-taxi and I had to ford only had about six inches of water in it, but looking out from N’s terrace, it was evident the fields are suffering.

Maguey fields in Teotitlán del Valle.

Maguey fields in Teotitlán del Valle.

Acres upon acres of parched earth, with rows upon rows of drooping and stunted corn — the lifeblood of this country.  When the campo suffers, so too the people.

Rows of corn stalks.

Rows of corn stalks.

Word has it that this is the driest rainy season anyone can remember.  In a normal year, afternoon showers irrigate the fields and clean the city’s streets at least four to five times a week from June through September.  This year, nada!  I can probably count on two hands the number of times it’s rained.  Your offerings and prayers to Cocijo would be much appreciated!

Update:  Wow, I have some powerful blog readers — it rained last night!!!  Mil gracias.  

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… and for everything good, you also should.”  — old Oaxaca saying.

Today, the XIV Feria Nacional del Mezcal opens in el Paseo Juárez el Llano.  Preparations were in full swing yesterday afternoon, when I walked passed Llano Park (as it is more commonly known).

Behind the back of Benito Juárez, carpenters were busy.

Carpenters building a booth in Llano Park next to statue of Benito Juárez

Newly constructed puestos lined the sidewalk on Pino Suarez, waiting to be filled with vendors and displays…

Empty booths along sidewalk
… and hearts of the maguey  (called piñas, because they look like pineapples) were piling up all around the park.

Pile of hearts of the maguey

For more information about mezcal, including how it differs from tequila, see:

In the meantime… “¡Arriba, abajo, al centro y pa’ dentro!”

Update:  Posters, website, and other publicity to the contrary, the feria did not begin today.   Mañana is the word!

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