France is fascinated by the Mexican culture, and vice versa. Here are a few places and products in Paris showing the reality of this connection, like this artwork of the French artist Rose Guerrero, in love with Mexico since years and that feels in her creations. Those examples help visitors to experiment some sides of this rich culture, mixed by many influences through History, like incas and conquistadors.
Distrito Frances is the taqueria of Paris, with hacienda style, that offers traditional recipes of Mexican mamacitas. Distrito Frances is born of a meeting between people from different cultures with original Mexican Cuisine and moments shared together. This Mexican restaurant is a special vision of Mexican cuisine between street food and fusion, like the famous tacos and guacamole.
It exposes the Mexican inspired artwork of the Ardeche graphic and tatoo artist Rose Guerrero made for the new edition of the french-mexican Calle 23 tequila, the fine Criollo. This beverage, promoted in France by Ecce Gusto and Vintage Spirit Garage, is born from the passion of a young French biochemistry engineer and travelgirl. Following various visits to distilleries in South Africa and Mexico, Sophie Decobecq decided to move to Guadalajara in Mexico to create her own brand of tequila. She brought her years of experience in yeast and microbiology to the arts of fermentation and distillation to launch her own tequila brand, born in a street when a partner asked her about the name of her future brand. Thanks to a particular geographical situation, agaves grown at more than 2000 meters above sea level, are full of sugar and give this tequila very fruity aromas. The year of the launch of the brand, Calle 23 is already rewarded at the San Francisco Spirits Competition.
Here are some questions to Sophie Decobecq:
– What brought you to Mexico? And what was your first activity before dedicating yourself to the nobility of the agave?
– I did my project of graduation in an engineering school in Mexico City where I was able to work in a laboratory on yeasts and lactic acid bacteria (their inoculation) and the fermentation of different substrates. Outside from this, I was just at a night bus away from the area that produces tequila. At the smell of agave, I fell in love with the production process and the product.
The installation in the tequila environment was done gradually according to the collaborations, and the application of my knowledge, learned within this laboratory.
– How long did the preparatory process for the design and development of the Calle 23 mark take?
– The project has matured for 2 years and a half. The time to be certain to have a product of good quality to continue this adventure which proved to be a real challenge. In addition, it was necessary to comply with administrative standards.
The project is now complemented by the meetings with bars adopting the mark Calle 23, which also allowed to meet the illustrator Rose Guerrero on the occasion of the release of this limited edition produced at the birth of my son Abel. A work of blend, a particular agave choice for the design of the Criollo, ten years after having produced the three originals. It was my announcement to me, in bottle!
– What are the consumption habits of the tequila of the Mexican population?
– Mexicans are curious about all the products coming from abroad, devoting a particular aura to it. Tequila was a little marginalized for many years, until the day when cocktails including the margarita became very popular internationally. People rarely drink it pure, but rather in paloma with a soda or coupled with a beer or sangrita separately.
– Apart from tequila, what are the flagship products and symbols that Mexico can claim from the French population?
– Apart from the traditional Mariachi, the concept side of taquilera exports well and the relationship to death with “the Feast of Death” organized and acclaimed annually by the Mexicans, with the creation of an altar in the honor of a deceased. It is a flagship symbol that will tend to develop internationally like Halloween, like the Disney movie directly inspired by this culture Coco.
– At which point stands the France-Mexico link today after these few years of procrastination and postponement?
– There is a very beautiful relationship between the two countries, the Mexicans very much appreciate France and learn French.
Not to forget, the twin national spiritueux, the Mezcal, a rather empirical alcohol that has kept all the traditions perpetuated by the generations. More than forty brands compete for the French market against nearly 300 in the holy land of Mexico. The french importation and distribution company, founded in May 2013, Mezcal Brothers, offers a dozen of native Mezcal brands for sale to the market. Plus a tequila brand and also a very similar agave spiritueux, the sotol.
On the operation, Mezcal holds similar steps with tequila. The first step is the harvest with a plant that must be completely destroyed with an ax, on the planting site with the risk of being a little stinging. The pine cone, from which the agave juice is extracted, is called the pina. The leaves are used for the manufacture of textile fiber (bagazo) or even paper. Not to be confused with the blue agave, used for making tequila. The next step is the vacuum cooking in the Spanish oven, with most of the farmers coming with their wood and their agave. Then, several hundred kilos of agaves or even tons can be cooked. Natural fermentation follows the process in vats for many in terracotta pots. Finally, distillation takes place mainly in stills (around 300 liters), batchwise, that is to say in two parts. All still empirically and without a modern instrument. In fact, the variety of each agave is inscribed on each bottle, in Latin. This highlights the prestige of agave which takes almost 7 years to mature. Some mezcal like pechuga contain elements of animals. The mezcal name is registered by an IGP with the CRM, official regulatory body, which certifies each bottle of a sticker with a barcode to trace the product to its origin. This makes it possible to distinguish the final product from other variants, including Sotol, a distilled spirit made from the leaves of Dasylirion wheeleri, Asparagaceae, a plant that grows in northern Mexico, in New Mexico, in the west Texas, and Texas Hill Country.
Another place of choice representing the mexican culture is the Azteca restaurant, not far from Le Forum Des Halles shopping center.
A part of Mexico sunshine was brought to France in 1986 with the birth of the Azteca restaurant. From its creation to date, everything relating to this exotic side is in the place: the flavors, dishes, atmosphere, decoration and good mood of this beautiful country. They offer a selection of mariachi and the best recipes of Mexican cuisine, made with love and ingredients imported directly from there, even with a wonderful margarita to taste! For 28 years, the Azteca has been delighted to make you travel to Mexico for less than a plane ticket (photo credits: Alexandre Plateaux).
This restaurant is plebiscited for the highlighting of traditional mexican speciality. Among them, the unmissable Margarita as a successful homemade appetizer. As other dishes, the cochinita pibil is native to the city of Merida, a region in the Yucatan Peninsula in southern Mexico. This typical Mexican dish known for its taste originality with its achiote pepper sauce. Slight citrus taste, orange and subtly perfumed with achiote. Enchilada of pollo mole, the mole poblano is a regional specialty of the state of Puebla. This sauce is known for its atypical mixture of seven peppers (ancho, mulato, chipotle, pasilla etc.) of dark chocolate and spices. Chimichanga is a specialty of northern Mexico, prepared in different ways depending on the region.
Without forgetting the Guacamole, the Mexican culinary specialty by excellence. It is savored in all regions of the country, as botana (appetizer), accompanying dishes or even as a dish. Their guacamole is prepared without tomatoes, without spices, to create the perfect balance between lime and avocado. It is of a freshness and unctuousness aspect.
The “three leches” Pastel, is a traditional Mexican cake, including as its name says, three leches for three milks. Renowned for its creaminess and sweet rum scent, this Mexican specialty is a real taste trip.