Pulque is a traditional Mexican drink made from cactus. It tastes slightly alcoholic and slightly vile. Once in Tepoztlan, I tasted flavored pulque: “fresa” (strawberry) and “pina” (pineapple). It reminded me of fruity yogurt mixed with something unappealingly tangy: perhaps, flattened club soda. In David Lida‘s book “First Stop in the New World” about Mexico City, he described the city’s pulque as more of a man thing–never pink, super viscous, and mostly consumed in male-dominated pulquerias around the city. (Anyway that’s what I remember reading—a friend borrowed the book.)
Twenty years ago, about twenty trucks would come every three days to Xochimilco (in southern Mexico City) to deliver pulque, but now the number is down to one or two. Only five pulquerias remain in this district, where there used to be eighteen. It is similar in most other parts of Mexico as well. Those pulquerias that are left are very small establishments, selling a product made by small producers.
So what’s a large-scale pulque producer to do? Why simple: hope the ambassador of Ukraine guzzles down a can of your cactus muck and says ‘hey, not bad!’
According to a recent story in La Reforma, that’s what happened. The guy liked the drink, he signaled his pleasure to some businesspeople in the homeland, and apparently, 2,000 cans of Pulque (from producer “Nectar del Razo“) headed out last month. And more are on the way—with hopes that Ukrainians will soon crave this Mexican drink just like…Mexicans once did.
The article mentions that Germany and the U.S. buy “Nectar del Razo” pulque as well.
Photo: Little boy watching (not pictured) Dia de San Jose party below. Cuernavaca March 2010