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A Culinary Side Trip: Tejuino

November 9, 2018

My friend Kyle and I went to a taqueria for dinner and damn the food was good.

It was true Mexican food, too, because their veggie enchiladas were not like deflated burritos covered in sauce and cheese, but were authentic – little tortillas dipped in chile sauce and folded like hankies with the vegetables on top.

There was a hand-lettered sign in brown magic marker on orange paper “Tenemos Tejuino.” I figured this was something special, thus the sign. It was taped under the Dessert section of the menu.

As we paid, I asked “What is Tejuino?” and the man told me “It is a dough with lemon and sugar and salt.”

I figured it was some sort of salty bread or cookie, so I ordered it just because I like trying new things.

“You always try the weirdest thing on the menu,” my ex complained.See also: why he is my ex.

Imagine how puzzled I was when they handed me a drink: Tejuino. 

And then when I drank it, it was as salty as the sea, and somewhat sweet, with a distinct lemon tinge and, yes, the uncanny taste of tortillas.

Salt. Sweet. Lemon. Dough. All in a very odd, kind of terrible, drink.

“Oh my God,” I yelped after tasting it.

“What is it like?” Kyle said. “Give me a taste.”

“You don’t want to taste this,” I said. But of course he had to.

“That’s TERRIBLE,” Kyle said.

We tried to imagine the circumstances in which one would want this drink, and decided maybe when working out in the sun on a hot day to replace electrolytes or something.

“Mexican Gatorade,” Kyle pronounced.

It’s apparently a relative of atole, a drink made with cornmeal that dates back to Aztec times. It comes from a salt-producing region of the Mexican state of Colima.

Sorry, Colima people, to insult your drink. It must be an acquired taste.

 

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