I did something foolish on my trip to Mexico City. Well, actually, I did several foolish things, it being a major birthday celebration/avoidance trip, but I'm only going to tell you about one of them. And for the record, I was not thrown out of that bar; I was ready to leave anyway.
Mexico City is full of street vendors selling all manner of foods. Many of them set up ramshackle tents and tables with crude seats for people to sit at. It all just looks like such a wonderful experience, and the food looked and smelled so tempting each time I passed one.
But those not assimilated to bacteria found in Mexico may eat at one of these street vendors only at their own peril. Even in established restaurants where it's safe to eat it's best to avoid foods not fully cooked — salads, for example — and even drinks with ice cubes. Montezuma, it turns out, was a very vengeful dude.
But there's another type of eatery that seems to fall between established restaurant and pop-up street vendor. They're technically brick and mortar businesses — they're under a roof, but they're typically wide open to the street. Their sanitation practices are a bit hinky.
But while out on a stroll one afternoon, well after the lunch hour, in which I had not participated, I passed one of these wide-open eateries that was promoting its tacos al pastor. Al pastors are sort of a cross between a regular taco and a shawarma, the Middle Eastern doodad that features roasted meats sliced from a rotating spit. Besides the roasted pork, the tacos also have cilantro, lime juice and slices of pineapple on the soft corn tortillas. I couldn't resist — I took a seat and ordered a couple of the tacos and downed them quickly.
Then I went to visit the restroom. If you believe the old saw that the restroom is a window into a restaurant's kitchen, I had just eaten from a filthy cesspool. I stepped out of the restaurant and saw across the street what appeared to be a nice hotel. With a bar. I walked in and ordered a shot of tequila. I had been told that it was the best thing to do and that it would kill any bacteria it comes into contact. It was worth a shot, so to speak.
And I realized as I was downing it that I was coming to like tequila, a drink I'm admittedly unversed in. So, back in the states, when I was invited to try some samples from Blue Nectar Tequila I said yes.
Blue Nectar is made in Mexico using 100 percent blue agave, the variety of the succulent that is most commonly used for tequila. In fact its species name is agave tequilana. Blue Nectar produces three varieties of its tequila: Silver, Reposado and Special Reserve.
Each had its own distinct flavor characteristics. The Blue had more spice than the others (although the Special Reserve specifically has spices infused during the aging). The Special Reserve, aged in bourbon barrels, had more of an alcoholic edge than the other two. I liked the Reposado the best — when sampled neat it was the most sippable of the three, almost like a brandy. And all three were good with mixers. (The flight attendant on Aeromexico suggested I try it with diet cola, and I liked that a lot.)
I realized I still need to learn more about the different types of tequilas, and I need to get started on that right away. Maybe I'll make a trip to Mexico — meaning the pavilion at Epcot — where La Cava del Tequila at the San Angel Inn has more than 70 varieties. And maybe after I taste them all I can sleep it off in one of those boats that drift by the diners in the pavilion's ride.
And by the way, the shot of tequila I downed as a chaser to the questionable taco didn't work. But the taco al pastor just may have been worth the consequences. Just maybe. I owe you one, Montezuma!