Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Mezcal Mezcla-up*

Free booze is the stuff of legends. Unfortunately, open bars at weddings or company parties, or the occasional free glass of wine on a plane ride is about all the free booze we ever get. It is precisely because of this that last night was a life changer for me.

I had been seeing the signs all over town for the last couple of days, and was really getting pretty excited for La Feria de Mezcal, The Mezcal Fair.

Mezcal, for those of you who don't know, is tequila's older brother (both are produced from the Agave plant, but tequila is only made from the blue variety), and when people talk about "eating the worm" from a bottle of tequila they are actually referring to mezcal since the Mexican standard authority prohibits placing worms or larvae in tequila (thanks Wikipedia).

La Feria de Mezcal is a TEN DAY festival that has been set up in one of Oaxaca's many gorgeous plazas. Small wooden stands have been erected all around the park, and each one is staffed by workers for one of the hundred or so small artisenal mezcal distilleries in the Oaxaca area. And what, you ask, are they doing at each of these small stands?


There is no limit to the sampling and since each distillery has anywhere between 3 and 10 different types of mezcal available for sampling it does not take more than two or three stands to realize that, despite each shot being about a third of a normal shot, you have stumbled upon something truly special, the stuff of legends.

I made it through about 5 or 6 stands last night, before wandering (i.e. stumbling) off to devour a bacon wrapped hotdog with all the works (perhaps the best kept secret in the Mexican cuisine). I returned for one final push, before reminding myself that there was no rush. I have 9 more days of this to look forward to. Pray my liver holds out.

* in Spanish mezclar means to mix.

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