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Posts Tagged ‘quesillo’

Besides mushrooms, tejate, tamales, and mole, there is cheese and mezcal… and last Monday I hopped in a colectivo bound for Etla; my destination was Reyes Etla (about 20 km. from the city) for the 2nd annual Queso y Quesillo Expo Feria.  Oaxaca is known all over Mexico for its cheese and, without a doubt, the best comes from the municipalities around Etla — and Oaxaca’s department of tourism is on a mission to promote its position globally.

Ball of cheese decorated with basil leaves and red bell pepper strips.

Vendors tempted with artistic displays and tastings of, among others, queso fresco, queso crema, and quesillo.  Yummm….  It is a dark day around Casita Colibrí when there isn’t a ball of quesillo in the refrigerator.

Display of cheeses with woman vendor behind counter

FYI:  Quesillo (aka:  Oaxacan string cheese) was first made in Reyes Etla in 1884 — supposedly by mistake!  According to one legend, a young girl from Reyes Etla disobeyed her mother and allowed the cheese curds to expand into a spongy mass.  She attempted to correct her mistake by pouring boiling water over the curds, then she kneaded it and pulled it into the first strip of what is now known as quesillo.

Woman vendor wearing mask behind display of quesillo
And, now, we turn to the 15th annual Feria Internacional del Mezcal…  After years of languishing in tequila’s shadow, being considered a “poor relation” — that is, if it was considered at all — mezcal’s profile has risen dramatically in the past several years.

XV feria internacional del mezcal oaxaca 2012

In August 2010, none other than Eric Asimov wrote about, Mezcal, Tequila’s Smoky, Spicy Cousin in the New York Times.  A year later, a NYT ‘s article advised, Move Over, Tequila, It’s Mescal’s Turn to Shine.  (You say mescal, I say mezcal.)

And, sheesh, I was flipping channels the other night and stumbled on Tim and Tim in Oaxaca, being instructed on the art of making mezcal by my landlord, on an episode of the TV program ROAM!  Then there is the No Reservations “Obsession” episode, where  Anthony Bourdain explores Ron Cooper’s obsession with mezcal.

Back to the feria, where over 40 vendors displayed their wares…

Bottles of mezcal lined up in two shelves of a display

poured generous tasting shots…

3 guys behind counter offering shots of mezcal

and sold their mezcals.

.Male vendor reaching for a bottle of mezcal

In addition, there was an exhibit showing the various types of maguey, from which mezcal is made…

Variety of agave plants with labels.

and the equipment used and processes they undergo to become this smoky and complex distilled spirit.

A mezcal still

As the old Oaxaqueño saying goes, “For everything bad, drink mezcal, and for everything good, you also should.”

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