TEN the export network advises and supports food companies that are aiming to broaden their horizons. To give the right support it is important to understand what's going on in the international food world. Therefore, we often travel abroad to see how consumers react, to investigate what products are on shelf, to talk to the buyers and learn what motivates them to launch a product. During these trips we talk to people, we encounter different visions, different cultures. We love to share some of these experiences in our travel blogs.

Combining business with pleasure

What is more convenient in life than combining business with pleasure? If you love traveling and have a passion for foods than nothing is more pleasant than discovering new flavours, recipes and sensations on a business trip. We recently enjoyed this pleasure during a visit to Mexico. Besides the business meetings and market visits we spent the rest of our time to – again – market visits, lovely food and … talking about food. It is a miracle that we did not gain weight, but lost some kilo’s…

We went on a trip with a Mexican guide to learn more about species that are less known to us. What about the ‘agave plant’ or maguey, a very special plant that is well-known in Mexico and can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Agave juice for example can be used as sweetener, the agave syrup. Our guide showed us how the fibre from the agave leaves can be used for making ropes and fabric, whereas the sharp thorns can be used as needle. But of course, the most famous use is the production of typical Mexican, alcohol beverages like pulque, mezcal and tequila.

Pulque has an Aztec heritage, its recipe seems to be over 2000 years old. With this knowledge, a zip of this drink tastes totally different than without this special story. The production is long and delicate, the liquid is taken from the heart of an 8–12 year old plant. This sweet juice is then fermented resulting in a milky and slightly sour tasting drink. The alcohol content varies from 2-8% and in Mexico you can drink this popular beverage everywhere, but especially in ‘pulquerias’, local bars. Mezcal is produced from the heart of the agave plant, the piña, and successively roasted, crushed, fermented and distilled. There is a nice Mexican saying: para todo mal, mezcal; para todo bien también (meaning that mezcal is the solution for all the good and bad things). Finally tequila, an internationally more well-known drink and the national symbol of Mexico. Tequila is made from the juice of the Agave tequilana. The best quality tequilas have ‘100% agave’ mentioned on the label, indicating that no other sugars have been added.

Of course, we tasted the local drinks. And as usual it all tastes great in this environment, between agave plants and Mexican people. But should you take a shot at home, in your own garden, than that’s a totally different experience. And we like this, as this is an extra motivation to go on a new journey, discovering new flavours.

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