Pulque – The Sacred Drink of Mexico

Pulque is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented sap of the maguey plant. It is traditional to central Mexico, where it has been produced for millennia. It has the color of milk, somewhat viscous consistency and a sour yeast-like taste.
The drink’s history extends far back into the Mesoamerican period, when it was considered sacred, and its use was limited to certain classes of people. After the Spanish Conquest of Mexico, the drink became secular and its consumption rose. The consumption of pulque reached its peak in the late 19th century. In the 20th century, the drink fell into decline, mostly because of competition from beer, which became more prevalent with the arrival of European immigrants. There are some efforts to revive the drink’s popularity through tourism.

Yesterday I visited Pulquería Miktlan, one of the better known pulquerias in Oaxaca. It’s not a large space, but pleasant with several tables. Local men played cards, a small family gathered to share some pulque, as did my friend.

While you can drink pulque natural, most people opt to mix it. Yesterday’s choices included beet juice, celery juice and oatmeal among others. Gaby chose beet and I selected oatmeal topped with a little bit of cinnamon. Both tasted really good to me.

If you want a change from mezcal look for pulque.

Béisbol in Oaxaca!

One overlooked activity in Oaxaca is watching their Triple-A Mexican League baseball team play. The Oaxaca Guerreros arrived in the mid-1990’s. They play their games at Eduardo Vasconcelos Stadium located on Hwy 190 not far from El Centro.  The season runs from the end of April to the end of July (April 26-July 19 this year for the regular season, then the palyoffs).

I’ve been to a couple of games and each time the tickets were 2 for 1. Where I like to sit the tickets are 60 pesos ($3) so you only pay 30 pesos for each one if you come with a friend. Beers are 70 pesos, but they are also 2 for 1. You can buy tortas, crepas, slices of Dominos pizza and other assorted snacks if you get hungry. Last night I took a couple of friends. They had never been to a baseball game and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. They wanted to know when we could go again.

Weeknight games begin at 7pm; Saturday and Sunday games start at 5pm.

If you like baseball watching the Guerreros play is a fun and inexpensive night of entertainment.


Expanding the Blog (a little)

I thought this blog would only cover my Croatia/Slovenia trip, but decided I didn’t want to create a new one for every trip I took so I added ‘and more’ to the title. Now, I want to add something new to the ‘and more.’

Oaxaca, the city I’ve called home for 2 1/2 years, has much to offer. I will highlight special things about it. For example, I’m not going to publish a post for every restaurant I visit. When I encounter a special meal, then I will. Also, I have a friend visiting in May, so I will blog her week here. That’s the blog expansion.

My first post features a restaurant called El Quinque. It’s located in El Centro on Calle Miguel Hidalgo and has become the new favorite restaurant for me and two of my friends. We all agree El Quinque makes the best burger in Oaxaca. We’ve tested 4 of the places that show up frequently on Facebook pages and are highly rated on websites; one major reason is you get the burger the way you asked for it. Most places, no matter how you want it you get well done. Another is the bun; fresh, soft, but sturdy.

I honestly believe they serve the best steak as well even though I have not tried another one in the city. That’s a brazen statement but I will stand by it simply because of all the steaks I’ve eaten elsewhere in the past. What makes it stand out for me is that it’s made with aracherra, which is skirt steak, a cut from the belly of the cow. The meat must undergo a lengthy marination — usually with a concoction that includes citrus juice, garlic, chiles and onions. Aracherra is commonly used in tacos, fajitas and in Oaxaca, tlayudas. However, it tastes best as a regular steak, juicy, flavorful and tender; there’s a bit of a sweet taste to it. I can’t recommend this place enough.

An added bonus: since the owner is also the chef he’s probably going to be there to answer questions you may have. He speaks English. I guess that’s two bonuses.