We’re back from Mexico now and getting acclimated to the quite, cool coastal atmosphere of northern California again. As I sit here enjoying a Sierra Nevada ESB I can’t help but notice the absence of the noises of Mexico. From the midnight fireworks to the diesel buses and car alarms, there was never a moment of peaceful silence. The garbage man called for your trash by hammering pieces of sheet metal together and the gas truck played a funny tune repeatedly over loud speakers attached to the cab. The calls of the vendors at the market and the special whistle of the knife sharpener who road his bike with a grinding wheel attached to the fender, through the neighborhood. The old man that sang his tuneless song as he made his rounds in the park each afternoon. Barking dogs, honking horns, mariachis bands, crowing roosters, televisions novelas, fighting cats and the church bells, always the bells from the Spanish Colonial churches that anchored each barrio to the earth like a rusty castle. I’m choosing what comes out of storage first and going through the process of unpacking as we settle into our new temporary home. I pulled out a bottle of tea colored mezcal that is wrapped in a shirt in my luggage and I want to open it and taste the flavor of Mexico again. But I set it aside to later share with friends at the next Zymurgeek meeting. I remember when I bought the mezcal. We were staying in the city of Patzcuaro for a few days and I got wind of a local Mezcaleria on the opposite side of the ‘lago de Patzcuaro’ just past the town of Erongaricuaro in a little hamlet called Oponguio. We took a ‘collectivo’ (van) out of town a few kilometers and were dropped off on the highway at the entrance of a long dirt driveway. We walked down and found a iron gate in a tall stone wall. A woman met us at the entrance and proceeded to show us the facilities of ‘Palomas Mensajeras‘ or ‘messenger doves‘ where this mazcal has been made for generations. First, the pit used to roast the ‘pina’ (the heart of the maguey plant) and the vats for natural fermentation. Fruit flies swarmed as she had us lean into the fermentation vats to get a good whiff of the odors associated with the process. Finally she explained the primitive still for distilling the fermented maguey juice that resulted in the mezcal. “The fermented juice is distilled twice to concentrate the alcohol,” she told us as we tasted the mildly alcoholic first runnings. . It was all very interesting and soon she led us to a table were we tasted two types of tequilla and some young and ‘reposado’ mezcal.
For more information on Palomas Mensajeras, contact:
Sr. Miguel Perez Resendiz
Calle Morelos #9 Opengulo
Mpio de Erongaricuaro, Mich. Mexico
Tel. 01(443) 393-2938