Mezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Acknowledge Other Points of View (Part 7 of 7)

el silencio cocktailDogmatism sometimes gets the better of us.  When we’re teaching about the culture of mezcal, it is sometimes very easy to exaggerate and mis-state, by finding fact where there is none.  And when we’re preaching to the uninformed, we sometimes forget that there is always fact-checking.  The uninitiated will not always take what is stated as gospel; especially when their interest in visiting Oaxaca is to learn about our spirit from a variety of sources.

Agave Madre cuisheWe must check our dogmatism at the door.  The braggarts may be building up their own reputations, but only for that fleeting moment, hour or day, until more tempered discourse in a different drinking or learning environment takes over.  Afterwards, it’s the reputation of the mezcalería which potentially suffers.

The foregoing are only a few of the instances in which blowhards in their dogmatic approach to the industry in the end do more harm than good: “X agave makes the best agave distillate; mezcal that is reduced to its ultimate consumption ABV by adding distilled or spring water rather than just the cola, is not real mezcal.” Again here, the same problem.

CopitaMapThe dramatic rise in the number of mezcalerías in Oaxaca since about 2013, is remarkable.  But without proper training of staff and taking greater care in promoting the spirit, it may all go for naught. Encourage both novices and the initiated, to experiment, read, imbibe and otherwise learn.  Don’t speak or write in absolutes, save for when there is certainty. Opine, but at the same time acknowledge other points of view. The mezcal industry in Oaxaca, and for the world, will benefit and continue its surge.

 

alvin starkman, Oaxaca, mezcal, Mezcal, Oaxaca, Glass, Cup, Jícaras, Clay, copita Alvin Starkman is a permanent resident of the city of Oaxaca, from where he operates Mezcal Educational Excursions of Oaxaca.  He can be reached at mezcaleducationaltours@hotmail.com.

Alvin Starkman holds an M.A. in social anthropology from Toronto’s York University and a J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School.  He has written one book about mezcal (Mezcal in the Global Spirits Market:  Unrivalled Complexity, Innumerable Nuances) and over 35 articles centering upon Mexican craft beer, pulque, mezcal and sustainability, as well as a further 250 articles about Oaxacan life and cultural traditions. He co-authored a chapter in an edited volume on culinary heritage (published August, 2014), and wrote an article about brideprice in a Zapotec village (scheduled for release in autumn, 2014, in the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies).

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

Mezcal and Dogmatism in Oaxaca: Harmful or Just Blowhardism (Part 1 of 7)

mezcal_harticleBy Alvin Starkman, M.A., J.D.

Not a week goes by without a visitor to Oaxaca wanting to learn about Mexico’s iconic agave based spirit, and asking a very pointed question:  why are some industry experts in the city steadfastly against common practices relating to imbibing mezcal, such as drinking reposados and añejos, using mezcal to make cocktails, and consuming one’s product choice based on ABV personal preference. I hear about the promulgation of rules about the shape and composition of drinking vessels, and of the dissemination of misinformation regarding how long it takes different species of agave to mature, and which mezcals are made with wild as opposed to cultivated maguey.  Usually such points of view are not expressed as opinion subject to discussion, but rather fact, or in some cases gospel.

Without maguey there is no mezcal or tequila.

To be clear, while I have been around mezcal in Oaxaca for a quarter century, and am currently involved in the industry leading mezcal educational tours on a part-time basis, I am far from an expert.  There is a long learning curve associated with mezcal, with so much to absorb in its now modern era.  In fact many authorities (as distinct from “experts”), both relative newcomers to the industry involved in production and/or export, and veterans whose families have been steeped in distillation for generations, approach production with open minds, and are anxious to continue learning through the exchange of information.

Read our next installment on this thought provoking feature by Alvin Starkman tomorrow where he’ll discuss reposados and anejos.  

 

alvin starkman, Oaxaca, mezcalAlvin Starkman is a permanent resident of the city of Oaxaca, from where he operates Mezcal Educational Excursions of Oaxaca.  He can be reached at mezcaleducationaltours@hotmail.com.

Alvin Starkman holds an M.A. in social anthropology from Toronto’s York University and a J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School.  He has written one book about mezcal (Mezcal in the Global Spirits Market:  Unrivalled Complexity, Innumerable Nuances) and over 35 articles centering upon Mexican craft beer, pulque, mezcal and sustainability, as well as a further 250 articles about Oaxacan life and cultural traditions. He co-authored a chapter in an edited volume on culinary heritage (published August, 2014), and wrote an article about brideprice in a Zapotec village (scheduled for release in autumn, 2014, in the Canadian Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Studies).

Learn all about tequila from field to glass and then get paid to share your love of agave spirits with others! Buy Them Both Now!

How to Get Paid to Drink Tequila:

How you can turn your passion into profits and get paid to drink tequila as a blogger, vlogger, podcaster or author

 

Salud!!