I captured this photo several years ago while wandering around one of the fields at La Alteña. I oft revisit the image and ponder the presence of the sombrero on the agave plant. Who was its owner? Did he leave it there on purpose to retrieve at a later time, or did he abandon it? Jimadors may be the hardest working men I’ve ever seen. I imagine the long days and the scorching sun from which this hat protected its owner. Imagine the tales it could tell…
I grew up in the Midwest and was just a generation removed from a family of farmers, but with extended family still in the business, my summers were often spent on the farm. Running and playing tag through 6-foot-tall corn fields, picking rock, spraying beans and baling hay, I had an adventurous childhood spent with my hands in the earth and my nose to the air breathing in life. In this way, I’ve always had a connection to the earth, intently interested in its bountiful harvests. My journeys to Jalisco and Oaxaca remind me greatly of these early years. The complete and utter dependence a people place on the earth, the rain and the sun-all elements of life in so many ways. The people, although separated by language and distance, have similarities too: hard working, salt-of-the-earth. I’ve even been drawn to the similarities of language within the old dialects of the Zapotecs in southern Mexico and it’s sing-song similarities to the Lakota spoken by natives in South Dakota. It seems the farther my travels take me, the more dirt paths I traverse and the many different shades of people I greet, the more interconnected I find us all to be. I hope this blog will help you learn a thing or three about agave and the culture around it that I’ve grown so fond of. And if possible, perhaps it will offer a glimpse of time and place that you find intriguing, one story at a time.
¡Gracias y Salud!
The Agave Files: Episode Eight, The Rise of Raicilla
By Chris Simmons As I alternate back and forth from gas pedal to brake, navigating the narrow switchback road, I can’t help but glimpse the changing terrain around us. We’re leaving the flatter plains of central Jalisco and ascending into the mountains where the world seems much greener than where we’d just recently been. We’re on our way to a small town called Mascota in [...]
The Agave Files: Episode Seven, Mexican Independence Day
By Chris Simmons ¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva Mexico! ¡Viva Mexico! Listen closely this Friday night and you may hear a chant emanating from our neighbors to the south as Mexico prepares to celebrate their national Independence Day. For Americans, it’s important not to confuse this holiday with the celebrations on Cinco de Mayo. Throughout much of the U.S., May 5th is marked with celebrations including [...]
The Agave Files: Episode Six, How to drink your Tequila
By Chris Simmons People often ask, what is the correct way to drink Tequila? As a shot? On the rocks? Straight up? The answer as you might imagine, has more to do with personal preference rather than right or wrong. While the national trend for decades has been to throw a shot back preceded with a lick of salt and quickly followed with a bite [...]
The Agave Files: Episode Five, Terroir
By Chris Simmons Dirt. Sunshine. Rainfall. Fog and wind. Although these words conjure images of the beginning of MacBeth, they’re actually all players in what is known as “terroir”. A French word, terroir is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “the combination of factors including soil, climate, and sunlight that gives wine grapes their distinctive character”. In layman terms, terroir is simple. It’s the relationship [...]