Unity of agave distillates and food

tequila food pairing mexican cuisine

Agave distillates have been used as alcohol, medicine, and food additive since the heyday of Native American tribes and throughout the colonial period. Although it is said that the first distillation apparatuses were brought to America by the Spanish, excavations and legends of ancient civilizations tell otherwise. Distillation vessels and agave processing tools dating back more than 2,000 years have been found in the state of Oaxaca.

In southern and central Mexico, where most agaves, tequila and mezcal are distilled, the gastronomic culture has come from ancient cultures and is very mixed with European and Asian cuisines. As a result, it is extremely diverse both in its flavor combinations and expressive presentation.

A glass of Mezcal or another agave distillate, the well-known Tequila or Raicilla , which is just starting to become popular, Sotol or Bacanora, distilled in the northern part of Mexico, is always offered next to the food. All agave distillates have an easily recognizable fruity aroma with notes of tropical fruits.

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Tequila distilled in the state of Jalisco from blue agaves. Upper Jalisco (Los Altos) tequila has a very fruity, expressive aroma, after tasting it you can feel the aroma of citrus fruits, white berries, pineapple or papaya.

Unaged tequila ( Blanco ) goes well with cold tomato soup, seafood salad or light chicken dishes. Instead of lemon (I don't recommend it at all with tequila), cut a slice of avocado: the oily texture of the avocado dulls the alcoholiness of the tequila, but leaves the bright aromas of the drink.

Aged tequila ( Reposado ) not only changes color due to the influence of oak, but also acquires sweet barrel aromas: vanilla, cinnamon, black pepper.

Short aged tequila goes well with vegetable stews, turkey tacos with light sauces, pork roasts or beef steaks. Due to the relatively short time spent in oak barrels, the tequila retains the aromas of the raw material, which makes the matured tequila go well with light, mildly spiced dishes. While tasting tequila alone, try snacking on a pear or mango. Orange with cinnamon is a thing of the past.

Tequila matured for 1-3 years ( Anejo ) extract heavier aromas from the oak barrels, as a result of which the drink emits aromas of milk chocolate, coffee, dried apricots or bananas. Aye glass will definitely complement a richer beef stew or hearty vegetable dishes. My discovery is Aye and Chorizo ​​sausage, grilled over a fire, can be accidentally slipped.

Tequila matured for 3-6 years and longer ( Extra Anejo ) while maturing in an oak barrel, it gradually loses the agave aroma and acquires rich, sweet aromas of ripe yellow fruits, dark chocolate, cocoa or tobacco. Goes well with smoked and long-grilled beef dishes with rich sauces. Chocolate desserts or fruit cakes go best with sweets Extra Anejo aromas.

Vanilla ice cream with fresh berries also goes well with Yes . Just don't offer it to children!

tequila mezcal food mexican cuisine pairing

Mezcal is distilled in the southern part of Mexico, in Oaxaca, differs from tequila in its stronger aroma and often contains more alcohol. Most mezcal is distilled from 'Espadin' variety agaves, grown in plantations for up to 8 years. Most Mezcals have a slightly smoky aroma, but after opening the glass in a couple of minutes you can find aromas from pear, papaya, mango to leather, smoked plum or licorice.

Mezcal from 'Espadin' agaves goes well with lamb or goat dishes, bean stew with beef or seafood soup. The rich aroma of the drink will complement the bright flavor of steaks grilled over a fire.

Less mezcal is distilled from wild agave varieties: 'Karwinsky', 'Tobala', 'Tobazyche', 'Cuishe', 'Bicuishe' or 'Cirial'.

Different agaves give the drink different distinct aromas. Mezcal is rarely aged in an oak barrel, very often after distillation the drink is kept in glass bottles of 20 liters capacity so that the drink calms down and acquires its true taste and aroma. One very unusual distillate feature is that mezcal "lives" and is bottled. Its aromas and intensity change over the years.

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Raicilla is produced on the east coast of the state of Jalisco. Only less than 10 years ago, this drink added to the official list of Mexican spirits, although it has been distilled for centuries, but it has always been unofficial. 
Raicilla distilled from different, mostly wild agaves ('Maximiliana', 'Rhodacantha' or others), which grow up to 15 years before they are cut down.
Roasted agaves are fermented in open containers, which often fall into the surrounding fruit or leaves, which give the fermented drink and the future distillate exotic aromas that explode in the mouth... Raicilla ​​is characterized by the aromas of ripe mangoes, thyme, honey, orange jam or freshly cut grass, perfectly goes well with white fish dishes, oysters, crab or lobster meat. The raisin with baby pig meat chunks is what makes me drive to Mexico three times a month.

Sotol is made from a strange plant that is not yet classified as agave, but has very similar properties - it is the Desert Sponge. This plant grows up to 12 years before turning it into a drink rich in herbal and spicy aromas - Sotoli.
Sotol, like Raicilla, is not matured in oak barrels, which is why it retains the aromas of citrus fruits, white pepper, and paprika. I combine sotoli with chicken, turkey or lean pork stews and vegetable casseroles. Sotol goes well with a candied grapefruit slice.

Bacanora is another agave distillate, 1992 included in the list of traditional Mexican drinks. Distilled in the state of Sonora. Bacanora is characterized by grassy aromas with notes of honey and licorice. Bacanora perfectly complements wild meat dishes, rabbit stew or vegetables stewed with chicken. Bacanora with halibut and octopus ceviche is one of the best combinations I've tasted.

tequila agave distillates food pairing mexican cuisine

Combining spirits with food is not yet a very common phenomenon, but by tasting more and more diverse agave drinks, we can find really great combinations and taste discoveries. It is important not to lose control and responsibility.

Linas Starkus, tequila ambassador in Lithuania

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