My Blue Agave Heaven
It is splendidly ironic that the source of one of today’s most touted “healthy” foods is also the base for tequila, also delicious but not exactly an elixir of life.
My first encounter with an agave plant was among the dahlias and roses at the garden island Mainau, in Lake Konstanz where Switzerland, Austria and Germany meet in the Alps (http://www.mainau.de/insel-impressions.html). Huge succulents with arms rising from a giant bulb, these formidable plants originated in Mexico. The most famous and widely cultivated commercially is the blue agave, from which the popular spirit is made (at least in part, more on that later).
The pina (the underground part which looks like a pineapple once trimmed) is the only part of the agave utilized.
It doesn’t have a lot of flavor before baking, the process which transforms the starches into sugars; the resulting mash is deliciously sweet and is then either made into the syrup (actually sweeter than sugar or honey) or fermented and distilled.
All tequila is made from a minimum of 51% agave (often labeled “Made with Blue Agave”) grown in Jalisco, Mexico, with the remainder of the blend comprised of other sugars. But the best (and most expensive) are 100%, and always labeled “100% Blue Agave”.
As with any beverage alcohol, tequila should be enjoyed responsibly. One great way is the margarita. Now, myMEGusta is not talking about the watery things made from generic bar mix in too many establishments, she is referencing a real margarita.
Some prepared mixes are quite good, but the classic is the 3-2-1: three parts tequila, two parts freshly squeezed lime juice, one part triple sec. It is possible to adjust the proportions to taste, particularly if this mélange is too tart (add more triple sec or lower the lime). Salt on the rim is an option, as is the choice of rocks or straight up. Another variation is to substitute orange juice for part of the more acidic lime juice.
Or, try adding a bit of agave syrup, or substituting for some of the triple sec, for an added dimension which will also offset some of the lime zing. It will affect the color, but so does using golden hued tequila versus silver, and lends a mellow, smooth sweetness to the flavor.