Enjoying two of my favorite things in Mexico: Micheladas and chiles en nogada.
Last week, after reading a T Magazine article, friend and fellow Astoria blogger Meg asked me if I had ever tasted michelada-style beer when I lived in Mexico. Tasted them?! Not only had I tasted them, I drank probably hundreds of them — a fact that OK maybe I shouldn’t exactly be proud of, but it does make me a bit of a michelada expert.
So, what the heck is it? “Chela” is Mexican slang for beer, and “michelada” usually means you’ve spiced up your chela in some way. Yeah, that’s a vague description because no two bars in Mexico serve it exactly the same way. Yet somehow they’re all incredibly refreshing and highly effective at cooling you off while, say, sunbathing on a Oaxacan beach or touring the canals of Xochimilco. It was a rough life, living in Mexico.
At its simplest, a michelada means you’ve gotten yourself a cold glass mug, added ice, the juice of a key lime or two, and kosher salt around the rim. Then you pour in a cold beer and presto! Deliciousness. More complicated iterations (<– a word I’ve started using infinitely more often now that I work for an internet company that loves to iterate) include adding Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, chili powder(s), Clamato juice…you get the idea – anything that turns a regular ole beer into something more closely resembling a margarita or Bloody Mary.
So, to relive some of my great michelada memories, I had Meg over for a tasting. I pulled out all the stops and procured chamoy liquid candy, which makes an excellent vehicle for getting the salt to the stick to the rim. I heated it up in el horno de microonda for a few seconds, dipped the rim of a pint glass in the gooey mess, and then poured some salt on top of that. I squeezed in the juice of one whole key lime, added a few cubes of ice, and poured in my favorite Mexican dark beer, Negra Modelo. This meant we had a great Mexican flavor combination of salty, spicy, sweet and tart. All in one drink:
Our chamoy-rimmed micheladas. Photo by Meg.
Meg wasn’t as impressed with our second round of drinks, during which I added Clamato (tomato and clam juice — a big favorite in Mexico) along with a splash of the ubiquitous Mexican flavor enhancer Valentina. Still, we managed to finish them off while snacking on chips and guacamole and popcorn laced with, well, Valentina.
Since then, our little mixer made me remember so many good michelada memories, and I started trolling our photo folders for said moments. There was no shortage. I’ll spare you the drunken details, but here are two of my faves:
My michelada on the beach in Ixtapa came in a Styrofoam cup with a straw. Which is a common way to drink chelas in Mexico. If you see people walking around a plaza drinking out of Styrofoam, there's a good chance they got their michelada to go.
My darling husband enjoys a michelada on the balcony of a restaurant in the Gulf city of Campeche. I am not sure why I chose to photograph the extra tables, perhaps it was the effect of too many micheladas?