Tuesday, July 21, 2009

it's a worm thing

To kick start the awesome weekend we had, we started out with a night at Café No Se. We're not really sure about the whole "no se" thing because these guys definitely "se" a thing or two...specifically about Mezcal. Not so sure about it yourself? Let me share with you what my Wikipedia research has found.

check out the goods - they've even got some home brew

What is it?
Mezcal is a distilled Mexican liquor made from agave plants. Basically the term mezcal refers to all agave-based distilled liquors that are not tequila which is made exclusively from the blue agave plant found in the Jaliso, Mexico area.

How is it made?
After the agave plant matures for 6–8 years, it is harvested by magueyeros (agave farmers) & the leaves are chopped off using a machete, leaving only the large piñas (pineapples) or corazones (hearts) behind. The piñas are then cooked and crushed, producing a mash called tepache which is then placed in large (300–500-gallon) wooden vats to ferment for two days, after which 10% village water is added and stirred into the mix. The Mexican government requires that 80% of this mix be from agave (as opposed to tequila which is regulated at a lesser amount: 51%). Cane and corn sugars may also be added at this time. When the fermentation stage is complete, the mash is double-distilled. (The first distillation yields ordinary low-grade alcohol.) After the first distillation, the fibers are removed and the resulting alcohol can then be added back in. This mixture is then distilled once again after which point, the mezcal may be bottled or aged.

Let's talk nitty gritty. Mezcal ages quite quickly in comparison to other liquors. It is aged in large wooden barrels for two months to seven years. During this time the mezcal acquires more and more of a golden color, and its flavor is influenced by the wooden barrels. The longer it is aged, the darker the color and the more noticeable the flavoring effect.

Age classifications

  • Añejo (aged) – aged for at least a year in barrels no larger than 350 litres.
  • Reposado (rested) – aged two months to a year.
  • Joven or blanco (young or white, often marketed as silver in English) – colorless mezcal, aged less than two months.
What's up with the floater? The "worm" (sometimes more than one) commonly seen in bottles of mezcal is actually the larve of one of two kinds of insects. Inside the mezcal, however, the worm is more a marketing substance, as it has lost its nutrients inside the bottle.

Although the custom is relatively recent, larvae are used frequently by several brands of mezcal to give flavor to the drink. A whole larva is deposited in the bottle, normally after having previously been cured in pure alcohol.

Note: There is nothing to support the widespread myth that the worm contains hallucinogens or aphrodisiac properties.

When a worm is included, the mezcal is known as con gusano (with worm). Aside from its consumption with mezcal, the maguey worm is considered a delicacy in Mexico and can be found on restaurant menus throughout.

the scorpion is an added bonus

At Cafe No Se the top secret mezcal bar is in a special room that is entered by crouching through a tiny door. Oops, guess this secret's out of the bag!

terrible picture, but you still get the picture

In this room is where we honored our friend Dan with some of his last drops of alcohol, before he returns home to Michigan to begin work at a "dry" college, where he will commit to a "dry" lifestyle. Sounds awfully "dry" for a guy who digs sucking down wormy liquor, doesn't it?

Salud - to a new way of life

caught in the act

even a boy who eats worms can win the heart of a pretty girl

Dan, we miss you already! In honor of you, we vow to not set foot back through that little door until you go with us! Hurry back soon!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seem as you are both addapting well to Guatemala. I am not surprised you both seem to adapt well tomany things. We visited Horacio and Nicole in Denver and fell in love with all we did. We love Denver in the summer but maybe not so much in the winter. Too much snow. We gave Horaio your belongins to safe keep though Amigo was very curious to find out what was in there. I hope you both continue to have a great and safe time in Guatemala. Veronica Reyes