Mescal with worm

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When I was studying in Mexico I got to try some mescal. Mescal is like the older, more sophisticated brother of tequila which is made from the same agave plant. At the time I wrote about gusano salt, a special salt made with crushed up maguey worms used for rimming the glass. It’s this worm that also finds it’s way into the bottle of mescal. If you’ve ever seen a bottle of alcohol with a worm in it, chances are it’s a bottle of mescal.

I bought a bottle while in Mexico and cracked it open last night to celebrate my birthday with some friends, though my birthday is actually today. Clearly I’m fishing for some birthday wishes from my readers.

The first round of shots was had without worm, and everybody agreed it was a really nice drink. It does have that advertised smokiness, but also I warms your body without being too strong. The worm always finds its way to the last shot, which – and this should come as no surprise – was bestowed on me. As I chewed it, it popped not unlike a grape. If there was any flavor of worm before, that was now drowned out by the mescal, so pretty much it was once again just a different texture.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 8

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Bird’s nest drink

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Bird’s nest is one of those delicacies that China is notorious for. For hundreds of years they have consumed these edible nests for their nutritional value and often pay top dollar to get it. It’s so prized it can get up to 2000 dollar per kilo. Now that’s exactly why I haven’t tried it yet. I don’t usually spend too much on food. Also these nests in China have been used so much it has started to affect the health and population of these birds.

These birds in question are so-called edible nest swifts and they make their nests using their saliva on rock cliffs in South East Asia. In Thailand people have started building massive birds houses mimicking the rock cliffs and pretty much farming the edible nests. This makes it a lot more eco friendly as well as economical.

It was indeed in Thailand that I bought a bottle of edible birds nest drink mixed with extra collagen, a true health product. Or so they say. The drink was a clear, thick liquid, sweet and viscous like a syrup. In it you could see lots of see-through bits and bobs floating around. I took a couple of swigs, but did not finish the bottle. There wasn’t much taste other than sweet, but the texture. Brrrr. The drink alone was thick and slimy enough, but then to find more slimy bits, that was just overkill.

Fear Factor – 5 / Taste Test – 4

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Pandan tea

 

 

FullSizeRenderPandan is a grass often used in Southeast Asia for making desserts. It gives a distinctive green color to any dish it is used in. I tried it before in a cream filled cake, but there was hardly any cream to get a good taste, so when I went to Thailand it was time for round two.

I visited the esteemed Erawan Tea Room in Bangkok for one of their afternoon teas. The set was quite unique with lots of miniature Thai dishes and pastries. Of course I was also asked which tea I preferred and so I opted for an iced pandan tea.

It arrived with a piece of pandan sticking out and served with a sugar syrup on the side to sweeten it if you wanted. I tried it first without sugar and it tasted almost exactly like rice. Surely these two plants must be related. After I sweetened it, it became more palatable for my taste like a regular iced tea.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 6

Tamarind water

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In Mexico you can often get a water with your meal, but when they say that they mean flavored water. Hibiscus is often used as well as tamarind. Tamarind is the sour bean-like fruit that hails from Africa that I’ve spoken about before. I ordered a tamarind water and was pleasantly surprised to see it was freshly made. Because of the acidity the drink was very refreshing. It did also have a certain sweetness to it. It was definitely a perfect drink for a hot day.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 8

Jalapeño margarita

 

imageI found myself in Mexico looking for something other than Mexican to eat. Don’t get me wrong, I love Mexican, but I like some variety in my diet. I ended up at a Guy Fieri place. A true foodie doesn’t listen to critics, but makes up their own mind. I have to say the burger I had there was one of he best I’ve had.

To drink I ordered a big glass of Jalapeño margarita. It arrived promising a good kick with a bunch of peppers sticking out. The first sip was actually rather disappointing. There wasn’t much in the way of chili. A gentle heat soon kicked in though, and I could taste a hint of jalapeño after all. I would have liked a bit more oomph however.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 7

Cookies ‘n Cream milk

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Hersheys has been popping up quite a bit lately. That’s not necessarily a good thing, but they sure have expanded their empire beyond just plain old chocolate. In Mexico you could find Hersheys cookies ‘n cream flavored milk. I was expecting a white chocolate milk with bits of cookie in it, but instead I found a plain old chocolate milk. It did have something odd to it that I disliked, but can’t quite put my finger on. I had a feeling it was a little chunky. Perhaps there were cookie crumbles in it after all.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 5

Hibiscus water

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Hibiscus flowers are used around the world to make tea, yet it’s something I had never tried before. In Mexico they also use it to make a kind of juice or soda called ‘Agua de Jamaica’. They steep the flowers in water and then add sugar. I guess that makes it more like an iced tea. I tried a bottle and found it quite pleasant. It was rather sweet, but you could make out a floral note, much like rose water. It was a bit too sweet for my liking though, maybe less sugar next time.

Fear Factor – 0 / Taste Test – 7

Pulque

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When talking about Mexican booze, everyone will know tequila and Corona, and some might even mention mescal, but pulque, who has heard of that? Like tequila and mescal, pulque is made of the agave plant. The sap is harvested and left to ferment. Because of the fermentation process it can’t be kept for longer than a few days and has a low alcohol percentage.

Different flavors are often added and I opted for a passion fruit flavored one. The drink was a little odd at first. It’s quite slimy, almost like mucus, but you get over that quickly. The taste reminded me a little of beer, not taking the passion fruit into account which gave it a nice tang.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 8

Wasabi mojito

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At a Japanese restaurant in Playa del Carmen, where I was doing a training course, I noticed an intriguing sounding wasabi mojito on the drinks menu. I love mojitos, but I’m not a big fan of wasabi, especially if I have too much of it, which for me is almost always. The drink came in a kind of mustardy yellow that gave the impression there was quite a bit of the sharp stuff in there. First impressions aren’t always what it seems as I could barely notice any wasabi. It was there on the background though, and perhaps that was just enough.

Fear Factor – 3 / Taste Test – 6

Pepsi Kick

 

imageYou think you’ve managed to make your way through all the Pepsis there are in this world, and then you get to another country. In Mexico they’re selling bottles of Pepsi Kick. It has added caffeine and ginseng, some believe this is some kind of energy drink. Ginseng is quite similar to ginger, and so I expected to taste just that. Not the case. It all just tasted like regular Pepsi. Perhaps it was just a little less sweet.

Fear Factor – 1 / Taste Test – 6