Several years ago we decided to climb in the little ol’ Toyota pickup and drive as far into Mexico as the truck would carry us. We were delighted to find a rich pallet of cultures with incredible gastronomy and warm welcomes. Unfortunately the bulk of our photographs were lost not to the multiple robberies we experienced, but to the false security of technology. We are fortunate to have our memories and a few photos that we would like to share with you.
Tejate is an ancient beverage made from Cacao (which is fermented for edibility), Corn, Mamey seed, and Rosita de Cacao. The women who are honored with the tradition of making Tejate are known as Tejateras. This is not a title that is used lightly. The woman pictured here is a sixth generation Tejatera; the apprenticeship can be up to 2o years. They wake up before dawn to grind up the ingredients into a masa (paste). Once the masa is prepared they spend about an hour at the market working the masa adding little bits of water and beating it with their hands and arm until the espuma rises. The espuma (the white fluffy stuff on top) is, as we understand it, the fat of the cacao and the fat of the mamey seed rising as result of the beating of the masa. The espuma is truly unparalelled. Tejate is a morning beverage, served cold with some panela (raw sugar) syrup, in una jicara (gourd) that is often ornately painted or carved. We always ask for it with just a little bit of sugar, so that the other complex flavors can come through. It is rich and creamy, stimulating and smooth with clouds of fat on top that is the stuff of dreams. It is truly the most unique, delicious and fabulous beverage we have ever encountered. If you are headed to Oaxaca, seek out the all-organic market called El Pachote, where you will see this very woman serving the best Tejate we found in the whole city.