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Issue 26

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Pochote Market and the Drink of the Gods

Grace Guo from China

preparing tecate
Photo: Sandy Peters
In the middle of the square, under a big tree, we found Tejate, the "drink of the gods.", a traditional Oaxaca beverage, once drunk by Zapotec kings. Two indigenous ladies stood behind a booth, There was a big bowl full of white foam on the top.

Serving with a gourd
Photo: Sandy Peters
The lady used a half bottle gourd to scoop the liquid to serve people. I can hardly tell what it tasted like because I sijple cannot relate it to anything I have had before. It had a very soft but rich mix of something creamy, somehting sweet, something earthy...



foam on the tecate
Photo: Sandy Peters
The principal ingredient is rosita de cacao or cacao which rises to the top as the pasty foam we saw in the bolw.



 

If you happen to walk around the Los Arquitos area in Oaxaca, Mexico between 9am and 3pm Friday and Saturday, you should definitely stop by at the Pochote Market.

It is a local organic market with a collection of all home-grown veggies and fruit and home-made food: vanilla beans, lettuce, onions, potatoes, goat cheese and other local products which I can’t even name them!

The market began in November 2003 and supported by the Oaxacan artist Francisco Toledo. The place got its name from the seven pochote trees in the yard.

Thomas, Sandy and I got there early in the morning. The veggies and fruit were shining in the sunshine. In the middle of the square, under a big tree, we found Tejate, the “drink of the gods”, a traditional Oaxaca beverage, once drunk by Zapotec kings. Two indigenous ladies stood behind a booth. There was a big bowl full of white foam on the top.

The lady used a half bottle gourd to scoop the liquid to serve people. I got the cup from her hand and took a sip.

I can hardly tell what it tasted like because I simply cannot relate it to anything I have had before. It had a very unique flavor. It was a very soft but rich mix of something creamy, something sweet, something earthy, maybe something sour...

The drink started in pre-Hispanic times and is still quite popular among the Mixtex and Zapotec people.

The principal ingredient is the rosita de cacao or cocao flower. It can only be found in San Andres Huayapam. Toasted maize flour, cinnamon, fermented cacao,and mamey pits are mixed with rosita de cacao and ground into a paste.

In the process, water is slowly added and laboriously blended by hand. When it is ready, the flor de cacao rises to the top as the pasty foam we saw in the big bowl.

Tejate is such a big thing for Oaxacans that the Feria del Tejate is held at the beginning of February each year. More than 15,000 visitors come to sample this traditional Oaxacan drink.


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