Nothing spreads holiday cheer quite like a hot beverage in good company. In Oaxaca the drink of choice for the holiday season is a traditional ponche, a hot fruit punch. Ponche thas variations but is typically made with a mix of apples, guavas, tejocote fruit (a crab apple-like stone fruit from the Hawthorne family) and raisins, spiced with cinnamon and sweetened with raw sugar cane.
While Mexico is often considered to have a hot climate, the highlands of Oaxaca can be quite chill in the winter months. This warming drink is ideal for the colder season, and takes advantage of the local seasonal fruit. In addition to lending its sweet and tart flavor to the mix, the tejocote fruit contains Vitamin A, C, antioxidants, and carotenoids, which all have immune-boosting properties.
Until 2009 tejocote was extremely difficult to get north of the border, since it was not allowed to be imported for fear of bringing insects along with it that could potentially harm US crops. The demand for the fruit however, led to tejocote becoming the most smuggled fruit on the US-Mexico border during this time! In 2009 farmers in California began cultivating tejocote locally, and now this highly desired fruit can be found across the US, specifically at Latino grocery stores.
Isabel, a dear friend of MZ, who runs a successful restaurant out of her home in Teotitlan del Valle, taught us her ponche recipe! This drink be made for the entire party, fruity for the kids and with a splash of mezcal for the grown ups. We think it would also be good spiked with spiced rum, but don't tell Isabel you heard it from us! Watch the video to learn from the maestra herself.
This holiday season, why not skip the apple cider and try your hand at making your own Oaxacan-style ponche? ¡Salud!