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Entries in Acateyahualco (18)


Mescal Still

Mescal still at Acateyahualco in Guerrero, Mexico. The fermented Agave mash (see Mescal) goes in on the right and is cooked, cooled, and the resultant distillate drips out into the plastic jug on the right through the green funnel. Flowers and blue cross are a nice touch. [NOTE: A high resolution copy of this image can be dowloaded here. Nice desktop image for your computer - especially for mescal aficionados].


Mescal Re-Visited

Great meeting yesterday with the mescal producers in Acateyahualco, Guererro (see Mescal). Five years ago I showed them how to monitor their Agave populations to avoid over-exploitation and to ensure future supplies of mescal. They have been doing this every year since. They know exactly how many seedlings, and juveniles, and adults they have in the surrounding dry forests, and exactly how many they can harvest each year. The number of small plants in local Agave populations has actually gone up.  Very proud of these guys. [NOTE: Image above shows a mescalero from Acateyahualco testing the alcohol content of his product. Can be as high as 72%. Whew. Powerful stuff].


Wall of Cane

Close-up of a storage shed next to the house where we had lunch in Acateyahualco, Guerrero (see Meeting in Acateyahualco and Experts). The walls of this decidedly-provisional structure are made from dried cane and old posts. Don't know how well it works as a wall, but the texture and color are incredible. [NOTE: A high resolution copy of this image can be downloaded here. Makes a great desktop]. 


Learn From The Pine

This from Hattori Toho, a longtime student of Matsuo Bashō:

"Learn about the pine from the pine, learn about the bamboo from the bamboo" - this dictum of our teacher menas that you must forgo your subjectivity. If you interpret "learn" in your own way, you will end up not learning. To "learn" here means to enter the object; then if the essence reveals itself and moves you, you may come up with a verse, a page, a painting. Even if you seem to have described the object, unless it has an emotion that comes out of it naturally, the object and your self will remain separated, and the emotion you have described wil not have attained sincerity, because it will be something made up by your subjectivity (translation by Hiroaki Sato, from Jane Hirshfield's Nine Gates). 

[NOTE: Image from Acateyahulaco, Guerrero. Agave cupreata Trel & Burger (see Mescal) in the right foreground; unknown species of pine (Pinus spp.) in the background].


Tiny Bubbles

Experienced mescaleros (see Mescalero and Experts) in Acateyahualco (see Meeting in Acateyahualco) gauge the quality of their product (see Mescal) by pouring the newly distilled mescal into a calabash cup and looking at the density of bubbles. I asked if this was a measure of alcohol content and was told that it was not. I was also told that if you do the same thing with commercially-produced mescal - made from Agave grown in plantations - you don't get any bubbles. Interesting. [NOTE: Image above shows mescal with "an average quantity" of bubbles. Really superior mescal would fill the cup with bubbles, I was told].   


Ivan Ibánez

Ivan Ibánez, student at the Universidad Autónoma de Guerrero in Chilpancingo, shows the mescal producers in Acateyahulaco (see Meeting in Acateyahualco) his Bachelor's thesis on the population structure and dynamics of Agave cupreata (see Mescal). I was an external advisor on this project and attended his thesis exam in February of last year. Nice piece of work. [NOTE: And, yes, that's a cup of mescal - locally made, sustainably produced mescal - in Ivan's right hand].    



Another image from the meeting in Acateyahualco, Guerrero last week (see Meeting in Acateyahualco). This is what traditional knowledge looks like. [NOTE: I worry that this may be the last generation of this caliber of rural Mexican farmer].  



This man has been making mescal out of Agave cupreata in Acateyahualco, Guerrero for a long, long time. Counting agave plants never used to be part of this process. But, after all of the meetings and presentations and discussion, he felt that running transects was probably something that he should know about - so he joined the inventory team. [NOTE: I got this marvelous image from Biol. Ivan Ibanez Couoh, who successfully defended his bachelor's thesis on the population dynamics of A. cupreata at the University of Guerrero in Chilpancingo this afternoon. Felicidades y gracias, Ivan].

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