Yesterday, along with eating an extraordinary amount of tamales (including pineapple-stuffed tamales) at La Flor de Lis — a restaurant that’s located only two tempting blocks from our apartment — Brendan and I tried two ancient drinks, tepache and pulque.
I had tepache with my tamale meal. It’s a dark yellow-orange liquid, shown above in the photo, sold in some restaurants and many mercados, as an agua fresca. Technically, though, it’s not that fresh, since it’s fermented pineapple juice. According to Wikipedia, because it is so easy to make, it’s popular with Mexican inmates, who can make it in their cell. If you’d like to make it yourself, here’s two recipes: Tepache 1 and Tepache 2 (includes photos).
To me, it didn’t taste much like pineapples (a favorite flavor and fruit of mine), but was still quite sweet and tasty. It has a little alcohol in it, too, never a bad thing on a Saturday afternoon. I’d definitely order it again.
And, later last night, Brendan ventured off to a pulqueria to try the famed drink of the Aztecs, pulque. It is made from fermented maguey (a type of agave, the same thing tequila is made from). Women traditionally weren’t allowed in pulquerias, but Brendan reports that the one he visited in downtown Mexico City was mostly filled with local college students and a few tourists, somewhat diminishing the once-very-masculine ritual of drinking pulque.
The history of pulque in Mexico is extensive and could be its own book. Let’s just say that Brendan’s assessment of the drink was that the “flavor was OK, but the texture was like mucous.” (Similar to when you break off an aloe vera stem, and it’s all goopy and sticky. Ick). I can’t provide you with any recipes, unless you have one of these growing in your garden.
Picture of a dude sippin’ some pulque: