Still on the quest for the perfect Michelada and getting ready to host Cindy and Sue for dinner tonight to recreate our La Olla Oaxaca experience in the humble environs of my kitchen, I ventured out yesterday on Labor Day to the bustling metropolis of downtown Pittsboro, North Carolina, wondering if anything would be open. Perhaps Mexican immigrant shopkeepers don’t observe Labor Day, I hoped — just a normal Monday for them. Indeed, Don Pablo Mexican Tienda had their OPEN sign prominently displayed and the few cars on the mostly empty street were parked near the door.
I love the small Mexican market shopping experience. Indeed, there was the Maggi (pronounce it with a hard G), the secret ingredient for successful Micheladas. I knew that somehow substituting soy sauce was just not going to make it. The taste test at home later that afternoon proved me right. I also found limes — big juicy ones — 7 for $1.00. Compare that price with your local major supermarket. Then, there were the ripe bananas, huge beautiful onions, avocados ready for guacamole that very day, and packages of 50 fresh tortillas for $1.25. I picked up the last papaya (it must have weighed 7 lbs) and could smell its succulence. I piled my goodies on the counter in handfulls. There were no shopping carts.
You must like Mexican food, the proprietor commented. Yes, I said. I like Mexicans, too. Oh, that’s great, he said. Many people don’t want us here. I smiled and answered. Yes, I know.
Eight of us were sitting around the table upstairs at La Olla Restaurant on Reforma in Oaxaca City, and Emma orders a Michelada. It’s yummy, she says. She just came down from Mexico City where this is the beverage of choice. Someone asks, What is it? Someone else asks, What’s in it? Tomato juice and dark beer and loads of spices, she says. Four of us, say, Let’s go for it! And, she’s right, IT IS YUMMY. I wrote to Pilar Cabrera, proprietor of La Olla to see if she would share the recipe for the concoction. I haven’t heard back from her yet, so I went on line, hankering for a Michelada and wanting to make one myself. I even ordered it last week at a brew pup near Chapel Hill and they thought I was crazy. No go, they said. We only do beer straight up. So, I discovered several recipes online. Here’s one I adapted based on what I had in my cupboard (minus the Maggi and the Worcestershire sauce). Beats a Bloody Mary any day.
Norma’s Michelada Knock-Off:
Trader Jose (that’s Trader Joe, y’all) Dark Beer (a real steal, authentic Mexican brew, at $5.95 a 6-pack)
Juice of a key lime (or juice of 1/2 conventional lime)
Good shake of Hot Red Pepper Sauce (like Tabasco)
Good shake of Low Sodium Soy Sauce (I used this instead of Worcestershire, quite good)
6 oz. Tomato Juice (or Veggie Juice Cocktail)
Fill 12 oz. glass with 3-4 ice cubes. Shake in the red pepper sauce and soy sauce. Add the fresh squeezed lime juice. Add the tomato juice. Stir. Top off with dark beer. (You’ll use about 1/2 bottle for this recipe — keep makin’ ’em).