SUGAR & HONEY
Mexican also have sweet-tooths, and all
their culinary sweetness does not come from refined sugar:
- Caña, or
sugarcane, Saccharum officinarum is often sold in the streets raw.
Segments are sold rather like pieces of candy. The vendor shaves off the hard rind so that
one can bite off chunks of crisp, fibrous pith, chew out the sweetness, and then spit the
stringy fibers into the street. In isolated Indian villages this may be the main sweet. If
there's always plenty of caña, the people's teeth show it...
- Pilón, or piloncillo is real brown sugar. I
emphasize "real" because in the US our "brown sugar" is actually
refined white sugar with other ingredients added. Mexicans make this "real brown
sugar" by boiling down sugarcane juice until it's a very thick syrup. Then it's
poured into molds in the shape of truncated cones, where it solidifies. Often the
resulting masses are wrapped artfully in sugarcane leaves.
- Miel, or honey,
can be very dark or very clear, and is sold in many kinds of containers. In mercados,
often it's sold in bottles stoppered with sections of corn cob.