Phoenix New Times food critic Patricia Escárcega's essay "Mother's Milk" has been named a finalist in the Association of Food Journalists' 2018 journalism competition.
She is one of five finalists in the essay category. The winners in all categories will be announced on Thursday, September 27, at the Sheraton Grand downtown, where the AFJ is holding its annual conference.
Escárcega is the only finalist from Arizona.
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Here is an excerpt for her essay on her search for pajarete, a mythical combination of raw milk, alcohol, and coffee:
"Pajarete, in a larger context, is part of that glorious pantheon of drinks invented to make freezing winter mornings slightly more bearable. It’s a body-warming drink, one that wipes the fog out of your eyes and eases you into the day with grace. It’s a farmhand communion, an easygoing ritual among neighbors and workers. Pajarete, in other words, is not something you drink alone.
"The first time I heard of pajarete, I found the idea of it enormously appealing, though I couldn’t really articulate why. It’s not its potentially stomach-churning blend of raw milk, booze, and coffee that intrigues me. It’s not the simple novelty of it, either. I think it’s the mythology of it. Pajarete’s reputation has evolved over the years from simple country drink to general cure-all of quotidian maladies. It’s said to soften the blow of hangovers, and stop migraines in their tracks. I haven’t yet heard it described as an aphrodisiac, but it won’t surprise me if I do some day."