“Why do they put a worm in Tequila?” I ask as my wife Irene and I sit sipping the caramel coloured elixir that provokes taste buds into doing the Mexican hat dance.
“Ah, Amigo,” answers our guide Angelica, who was born and raised in Guadalajara, “you need to visit the Raven to learn about Tequila.”
So our quest begins. Angelica arranged for us to leave Guadalajara, Jalisco Mexico’s capitol and financial centre, the next morning. After a one hour drive we arrive at Tequila where this luscious, soothing concoction is made.
Just outside the town we meet Cecilia and Ismael at an agave farm. This is to be my first lesson; agave is the main ingredient in tequila. Cecilia explains, “The agave plant takes 20 years to mature from a seed to the point that the plant is suitable for making tequila, but we can’t wait that long.” Ismael cuts off a miniature plant from the larger one and Cecilia informs us that this is a ‘baby’ agave.
“An agave plant is both male and female,” she explains, “and by transplanting the babies we can harvest them in 7 to 10 years.”
Cecilia asks, “What do you think is inside the agave plant?” Irene thinks the centre is much like the meat of a coconut while I think it is similar to coconut milk. Ismael takes his sharpened axe-like tool and splits the plant wide open to reveal (you guessed it, Irene was correct as usual) a meaty, nutty interior. Upon shaking hands with Ismael, who has worked the agave fields for 38 years as a jimador and can prune up to 3000 plants a day and harvest up to 400 a day, I am astounded at the smoothness of his hands. I ask through Cecilia, as Ismael speaks no English, how is it that his hands can be so smooth? He very modestly relates it is because of the agave cream he uses. Well,. naturally Irene’s curiosity is peaked and she asks Cecilia where she can buy some of this cream. Cecilia states, “Ismael makes the cream himself.” With that he appears with a few jars of this magical potion and obviously has a ready made market