Not every day in Minervaland is filled with sweet young coconuts stuffed with tender seafood, juicy marinated papaya, and frosty cold cans of Tecate just itching to pop open and receive a finishing touch of salt and a lime squeeze. Tecate, that refreshing, totally drinkable, and, yes, unremarkable Mexican lager, is the stuff of Minervaland beer dreams.
Oh, Tecate, how I love you, how I share stories of you with everyone I drink beer with . . . tasty, tasty Tecate . . .
Wait, where was I? Yes, not every day in Minervaland is sunshine, tasty food, and beer. Some days, gloom rolls in, and Beer Tragedies of the Mexican Variety strike.
On a particularly dark day in recent Minervaland history, my seemingly harmless request for salt and limes was horribly misinterpreted, and in a blur, a salt-rimmed short pilsner glass appeared, a lime wedge stuck to its rim -- and before I could protest, my frosty cold Tecate was quickly poured in, leaving behind a foamy and tragic mess.
Mouth left hanging open, and without an opportunity to express the great beer sadness I was suffering, flashbacks to every other Beer Tragedy of the Mexican Variety came to mind, developing a clear mission: to provide three simple guidelines for public Mexican beer consumption in order to prevent such Beer Sadness.
1. If Tecate is presented in a can, it should be consumed out of the can, and only out of the can, with the previously mentioned salt and lime juice (allowable variation: no salt, if the need for it is strongly questioned), added to the top of the can, but not directly inside of it. This is a long-established and somewhat superstitious tradition in canned Tecate consumption, and while completely unnecessary, if the tradition ain't broke and it's tasty, don't fix it.
2. Beers like Negra Modelo and XX Amber shall never meet a lime wedge. Would you add a lime to a dark lager from an origin outside Mexico? Doubtful. Do you see the Most Interesting Man in the World with a lime sticking out of his XX? No. Then don't add it to a Mexican beer just because Mexicans allegedly add limes to everything. We nearly do, but not quite . . . On the subject of beer and lime: Tecate is the only beer consumed with lime in Mexico. Any addition of lime to beer has been an American contribution, and if a beer is made appealing only by shoving an entire lime down its pale neck, it is not worth chugging.
3. Corona and its beer sisters, Victoria and Sol, are not good beers, even in Mexico. Their clear glass packaging, a cheaper glass to manufacture, indicate they are the poor man's (i.e., American college students) beer, and these beers were for a long time the same price as a bottle of one of the many delicious Mexican flavored sodas. Tamarindo soda or Corona? I'll take the Tamarindo, please.
A fundamental rule of International Beer Consumption in Minervaland: Skip the skunk and never drink a beer from a clear glass bottle. Every country has its cheapo, low-class beer, but the huge popularity of beers like Corona in the United States, far more popular here than in Mexico, clearly shows that Corona has a better PR team than, let's say, Natty Ice. Judge not Mexican beer by the lowest standard, America.
I would love to be able to share more on the new crop of Mexican micro-breweries working to develop Mexican beer to include more variety than the pilsners and lagers brought by German and Polish immigrants to Mexico during the 19th century, tasty as they are. Sadly, these beers, including the awesomely named Cervecería Minerva are not readily available in the United States.
In other words, it's time for a road trip -- adventurous and beer-drinking buddies wanted.
As proprietor of Muñeca Mexicana handcrafted food, Minerva Orduño Rincón makes everything from mole poblano to goat milk caramel to spiced (not spicy) cocoa. Find her at a farmers market near you.