Seven Common Misconceptions about Tequila and Mezcal

A pile of agave cores, ready to be roasted for mezcal.

Tequila and mezcal are made from “cactus juice.” Agave is not a cactus, but rather a member of the botanical order Asparagales, which includes asparagus and narcissus. (Native to the New World, the genus Agave is exceedingly diverse, with well over 100 varieties in Mexico alone.) Mezcal is a type of Tequila. If you want to get down to brass tacks (and I think you do), Tequila is a variation on mezcal, or distilled agave spirits. Mexican laws about the […]

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Mexico Travel Advisory: Hysterical or Legit?

The US State Department recently issued its latest Mexico travel advisory. The preamble is remarkably reasonable, and contains several points that support my own point of view on the subject of Mexico travel: “Millions of U.S. citizens safely visit Mexico each year for study, tourism, and business, including more than 150,000 who cross the border every day. More than 20 million U.S. citizens visited Mexico in 2012.”   “The Mexican government makes a considerable effort to protect U.S. citizens and […]

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Recommended Spanish Language Schools

Fenix Language Institute in Zacatecas was recently recommended to us as “awesome!” From the website: “Fenix Language Institute was founded in 1973 with a firm commitment to perfecting strategies for the teaching of Spanish as a second language. Until then, the traditional method had stressed grammar model imitation, mechanical repetition exercises, and rigorous memorization. The results were not impressive. The founders of Fenix rejected these ideas and searched for a better, more natural approach. As a child, you acquire your […]

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Road Food: Torta Round-Up

A good torta is a thing of beauty. And in Mexico, a good torta is not hard to find. Any self-respecting Mexican city boasts hundreds of torta shops: from the steaming fondas of the mercado to the tiny tiled diner tucked between the behemoths of the business district. Each of these establishments has its own tricks, but seldom do you see drastic variations. You have your torta de pierna, your torta de milanesa, your torta de jamon, your torta cubana, […]

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Zacatecas! (Shhh!)

zacatecas

Sometimes I like to pretend that I am a 17th Century Marquise. Unlike my disreputable house in the Oregon Coast Range, Zacatecas is a good place to practice this delusion. More specifically, the Hotel Casa Santa Lucia really fosters delusions of grandeur. After two nights in cheap-ass accommodations (180 pesos and 60 pesos respectively) we decided we could afford to splurge on a little colonial luxury. Miss Louisiane lurking disreputably in front of fancy hotel. Located in downtown Zacatecas, The […]

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Taste of Zacatecas

State seal of Zacatecas.

If you’re still on the fence about a trip to Mexico, you’ll tip to the southern side when you read Javier Cabral’s excellent article on exploring the culinary treasures of his family’s ancestral home in Zacatecas. If you still can’t quite spring for a trip, the article’s home site, Saveur Magazine, offers  excellent strategies for bringing Mexico to your kitchen, including Javier’s aunt’s recipe for Gorditas Zacatecanas.  

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