Friday, June 11, 2010

Mexico - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


The 2010 FIFA World Cup kicked off with Mexico playing to a 1-1 draw against the host nation, South Africa.  While it might be a difficult draw to pull the opening day match against the home team, it is not difficult to draw up a vivid picture in my mind about great Mexican food and drinks.  And I'm not talking about Americanized Tex-Mex or putting a lime in your cerveza.  I'm talking about real, authentic, Mexican culture.  Today I will explore traditional bites and boozes from Mexico!  So prepare my friends, Bite and Booze is going south of the border for posole and agave tequila!

Posole (poh-SOH-lay) is a quintessential Mexican comfort food that would equate to the likes of gumbo for those of us in Louisiana.  It equates to a hearty meat broth, traditionally made from pork.  The preferred meat for most authentic posoles is pig's head because it contains the most flavor, but any meat with bones could work.  Posole also contains chili and hominy (corn) that has been soaked in lime juice to add flavor and soften the kernels.  Posole is usually enjoyed at homes in Mexico, posolerias (restaurants devoted to crafting delicious posole), and at markets or from street vendors.  Much like any soup, there are regional differences all over Mexico, with most popular being from the Jalisco and Michoacán states.

Agave (uh-GAH-vee) is the plant that tequila comes from and is mostly grown in select area of Mexico, with one of the most famous being the state of Jalisco.  Contrary to popular belief, agave is not a cactus.  Rather, it is a member of the lily family.  Of all the types of agave plants, only the blue agave may be used to produce tequila.  Any other variety of agave makes mezcal, which is tequila's cousin that is prepared differently and has a smoky bite in its flavor.  Tequila is made from the juices of the pineapple-like core of the blue agave plant.  After roasting or steaming the massive (up to 300 lbs.) cores, or "pinas," they are pressed to release the juices or aguamiel (honey water).  The aguamiel is then fermented and at least double distilled before being bottled and sent to your shot glasses.   If you drinking tequila that is "100% de agave," then that's exactly what you are getting.  If it is not 100%, it has to at least be 51% made from agave, with water and sugars taking up the rest, to still be considered tequila.  Most commercially available tequilas are 80 proof or in that ranger, though some can range up to 100 proof.  A few other words you might see on tequila bottles are:

  • Blanco ("white") or plata ("silver"): white spirit, un-aged and bottled or stored immediately after distillation, or aged less than two months in stainless steel or neutral oak barrels;
  • Joven ("young") or oro ("gold"): is the result of blending Silver Tequila with Reposado and/or Añejo and/or extra Añejo Tequila;
  • Reposado ("rested"): aged a minimum of two months, but less than a year in oak barrels;
  • Añejo ("aged" or "vintage"): aged a minimum of one year, but less than three years in oak barrels;
  • Extra Añejo ("extra aged" or "ultra aged"): aged a minimum of three years in oak barrels. 

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