Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Coyol Wine

Okay so the dead palm tree below is a coyol palm. The people around here say that this is the only place in the world it grows. It produces some nuts that are very hard and kind of tasty, but it is famous around here for coyol wine.

The reason that this tree (above) and every other I've seen around here is dead is because of a palm beetle. It has devastated the coyol palm population. They were telling me that the price of coyol wine is 6 times higher than it was 5 years ago. They said that just a few years ago coyol palms were all over the place, but now they have to drive a couple hours out into the mountains to find them. They beetles do not attack the tree until it is a couple of years old... just before its ready to reproduce and produce the wine.

So obviously drinking coyol wine from these trees that they cut down, was a bit of a moral dilema for me. I was already there and drinking it by the time I had pieced together all of what they were telling me about its future. At the time I rationalized that the beetles are spreading anyway and the only way people will learn how to farm them, and protect them from beetles if there is money to made from people drinking it. That was at least what the locals that I went there with were talking about... how to grow coyol and ship it to the world. But now that I'm sitting here at the computer, I'm not sure that continuing to drink it was a very responsible choice for me.

They slice into the palm heart and the milky juice that comes out ferments into a drink that tastes kind of like coconut water and is the color of squirt. The juice slowly leaches from the palm heart and they collect it 3 times a day.

We went to this location because they used to let you drink it straight from the trunk with a long wooden straw with a horsetail hair filter but they said that too many straws were stolen last year.

Drinking it is an interesting experience it gets stronger the longer its out of the tree... and you burp constantly from all the CO2 in your stomach. After just a few days it gets too strong and awful tasting to drink alone so they still a block brown sugar into it to make it into a sweetish liquor with a brownish color (below) that tastes a lot like alcoholic honey.


The trees have super sharp 3-4 inch spikes like a cactus... which makes walking over to the bathroom a little hairy after a couple of glasses.

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