Mexico: Day 2 - Vamos a Ver
It's a little overcast this morning in Guadalajara City. We might get some showers in the afternoon, but we're hoping the mid-day holds for some sunshine in the agave fields. The temperture is about 90 degrees during the day, which wouldn't be all that bad if the rain didn't bring the humidity level up with it. I went for a walk yesterday evening through town into one of the local shopping centers and I think most of what I drank came right out of my pores.
At dinner last night, Juan and I connected over our love for the food of a grandparent. It's the idea of someone understanding a process as it was handed down to them, without needing to read a recipe or take any formal training. They can simply put their soul into the cuisine, rather than their science. We both agreed that if we had to choose between eating at a restaurant with formally-trained chef and eating at the house of an old Mexican woman, we would choose the viejita every time.
In a sense, this is the same principle that Juan Núñez values in his tequila – the fact that they make it the way they do because it's the way they've always done it for more than three quarters of a century. After the sale of the old El Viejito distillery to Patrón, workers for the tequila giant would come by their new facility to watch how they made the tequila. They wanted to make sure they could mimic the flavor on their own, without the help of the Núñez family. They would ask questions, "Why do you cut the agave like that?" Because that's the way we've always done it, Juan would answer.
There are obviously scientific explanations as to why certain chemical processes take place and make the tequila taste the way it does. The Núñez family, however, isn't really sure of what they are, nor do they really care. They know their way of making tequila works, just like my mom's grandmother knew how to make bread. You knead it this many times, add a pinch of this or than, feel the dough, you'll know when it's done. It's that experience that most often makes for good cooking in my opinion, not a recipe or a modern scientific update. More importantly, it's not as easy as simply following a few steps. Some people seem to have more of a knack for it than others.
Off to the distillery in a few minutes! More later.