Beverages of Oaxaca is a beautiful and eye-opening tour of the Mexican state and its astonishing array of locally produced drinks.
When photographer Salvador Cueva contemplated a project to document all of Mexico’s traditional beverages, he partnered with food historian and critic Ricardo Bonilla, who steered him toward Oaxaca, knowing that this country-within-a-country would be a rich place to begin. Their collaboration produced this handsomely photographed guide, which divides Oaxaca in to eight regions and discusses drinks made from “fruits, seeds, rinds, leafs, sap, flowers, crusts, [and] stems,” and prepared “raw, roasted, cooked, fermented, distilled, boiled, ground, mixed by mortar and pestle, foamed, cold or hot.”
As diverse as the drinks are, so too are the stories of the beverage makers who are profiled here, which often reveal aspects of Oaxacan cultural history and daily life. One learns that the Manila galleons brought mangoes and lemongrass to Mexico centuries ago. A neighbors’ oven, used for baking, might be borrowed to roast fruit for a few hours after it is too cool to produce bread. Tepache con rojo is a ceremonial drink prepared by members of an ethnic group who refer to themselves as the “never conquered” for use in a religious ceremony that predates European conquest.
In the most exciting way, this single book absolutely destroys any argument that Mexican food and drink culture is fully documented.
Hardcover. Full color photography throughout.
This is the English-language edition. You can find the Spanish-language edition here.