No, I didn't see any piñas on the plants we saw. I think it appears only when the central stalk comes up, and probably in that region the plants are harvested right at that moment because if you wait too long, they are no good anymore.
casimira , the first place we stopped, at the palenque of Señor Felix Angeles, was Santa Catarina Minas, 39.4 km from Oaxaca. Santiago Matatlán, the heart of mezcal producing country, is 46.3 km away from Oaxaca.
As far as we could see, there was no official overview of the production. I assume once it gets to the commercial bottling level, there are certain standards that must be met.
As far as profit, the people we met were all 3rd and 4th generation producers and are probably making more now since there is an international market for their product. Any mezcal bought on this trip was bought directly from the producers, i.e., no middle man. Also, the mezcal production is mostly a family affair, meaning less dispersal of income.
breeze , you can't actually see the piña because it's hiding in plain sight. That is to say, the agave does not look like a pineapple until the leaves are cut off. You could approximate the effect by cutting off all the leaves of any ornamental agave you happen to have lying around. Of course when the agaves are mature enough to be made into mezcal, they're much bigger, so make a more impressive "piña". Let me use these pictures off the internet to illustrate. (they're of tequila agave, but very similar) In the first picture, the man is chopping away at the outer leaves so that he can get close enough to heave the very heavy plant out of the ground. In the second picture, he continues slicing off all the leaves close to the heart, creating the pineapple/piña effect ~ izkalitequila.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/jimador.jpg
lagatta asked about pulque ... I believe that the shop shown in Kerouac's #27, 5th picture, is where we stopped to sample pulque and that in fact the substance in the gourd in #27, 7th picture, is actually pulque. It is a taste and texture that I don't ever see myself acquiring.
We stopped at the shop and palenque of Señor Juan Hernández. A sample convinced us we needed some of his excellent aged product. Any shop selling mezcal in Oaxaca will feature ornamental decanters, some of them quite obscene. They didn't tempt me, but some of the garden ornaments did ~
Señor Hernández uses a reed to draw forth a sample from one of his casks. I should have shown more of his hand, with his finger holding the top of the reed closed until time to decant the mescal into the sampling cup ~
Thanks for all this, Bixa and Kerouac. I still don't particularly want to drink any mezcal or tequila, but it was interesting to see how it was made. How are they going to keep doing it with traditional wood fires, though? I don't see many trees on those hills.
bjd, I talked about the wood issue somewhere now buried within the report, but we were told that the wood is bought and trucked in from someplace else.
Great report, Kerouac -- you caught and explained all kinds of transitional pictures that make everything clear. I wish you hadn't shown that close-up, the 3rd picture in #35, though. It makes me want to go back and sample and buy more at that place. Their labels are great, encompassing all kinds of details about individual mezcals that we were told, but that are impossible to remember. If anyone is interested, the one called cedrón is flavored with lemon verbena (cedrón) and is one of the popular types.
Actually, the piña is not at all a separate thing. It is simply the agave plant itself with the leaves cut off, leaving what's left looking like a pineapple.
I wish we'd had three weeks! We all met in the Mexico City airport on the 25th of October, a day that was mostly lost in terms of sight-seeing since the last person didn't arrive until the afternoon. Htmb & Kerouac left Oaxaca airport on the morning of November 8. It was so much fun being with them, especially since we're all picture takers. I can't wait to see what else Htmb has to show. You just know her landscape shots of the mezcal tour, for instance, are going to be dazzling.
We will go on more group trips if that's what you want. Why don't you come along?
They have all kinds of uses, some of which I don't know. The fiber makes a tough white thread called ixtle which is used to ornament leather goods. In the market of Nochixtlán, a town @90 km SE of Oaxaca, they specialize in barbacoa cooked over and under agave leaves. While cooking, the meat juices drip on and cook cracked corn. Sublime! The membrane of the leaves is also used as parchment to wrap meats for cooking. nikholesteras.com/barbacoa-in-asuncion-nochixtlan/ This second link sums up what a fun voyage of discovery Mexico is ~ www.seriouseats.com/2010/09/what-is-mixiote-mexican-food.html
A wonderful tour from both of you! I was interested to learn from you Bixa "You should know that all tequila is mezcal". I went to see what I had in my little bar and found I had a bottle of Jose Cuervo Especial - Tequila Reposado - Made with Blue Argave. On the back it gives a short history of tequila and the Cuervo family being the oldest distillery in all Latin America. The address is in Jalisco. So it looks like I might have to make myself a humdinger of a marguerita at 5 0'Clock
Congratulations on the great report - and I can't wait to see where else you are taking us Kerouac.
Last Edit: Sept 9, 2018 21:32:49 GMT by bixaorellana: replace smiley