A piece of cardboard with 'tejuino' spray-painted in orange was duct-taped to the back of the van.
Inside was a large wooden half-barrel filled with a caramel-colored liquid cooled with ice. The drink was made by using a metal citrus press to squeeze three large lime halves into a cup. A pot was dunked into the barrel, and the brown liquid was added to the lime juice.
Then the drink was poured back and forth a few times from cup to pot to cup. The plastic lid of the cup was sprinkled with salt and topped with half of a fresh lime. On request red chile was added to the salt. .
It was magnificant ... sweet, sour, tart, salty. The consistancy was like pineapple juice, slightly thick. A sip of tejuino followed by a taste of the lime dredged in chili salt ... a taste of heaven ... the elixer of the gods ... all for $2.
Some say that the tejuino is an aquired taste. I had my first a few years ago and it was fine, but not memorable. The drink I had today was in a whole different class. IMO, anyone with a taste for margaritas would take to this drink immediately.
The tejuino is a drink made from water mixed with piloncillo (cone-shaped Mexican brown sugar) and masa (yep, tamale/tortilla dough) that is boiled and slightly fermented. This article by Cristina, a Chowhound who posts on the Mexican boards, says "I've never known anyone to get so much as a buzz from sipping a cupful of cold tejuino."
In Mexico, sherbert is added to the drink. Neither of the two I tried locally had sherbert. However, for the drink I had today ... that would just be guilding the lilly ... I'm not sure I'd want that if you have the perfect fresh lily.
This was so good that I did something I rarely do ... I went back and had a second. Definately in my top ten tastes of 2008.
There was a serindipty in finding this truck. Hhc mentioned that Nieves Cinco de Mayo serves tejuinos. Then the next day I drove down a street I rarely do and spotted this van selling that same drink. If I hadn't read the post about Cinco de Mayo the night before, I doubt I would have noticed it or stopped. Here's the other post
The van in Richmond is located outside of Supermercado Trujillos. On Saturday the market had a little grill going selling beef and chicken. Today it was only the tejuino van. Don't know if it is there every weekend, but if you live in the area, I highly .... highly ... recommend seeing if it is there one of these weekends.
The market is ok. It's claim to fame is marinated meat. They sign says in Spanish they are the king of marinated meat. They have some nice roasts around the holiday season. They also have already breaded milinesa which isn't seen much in the Richmond area carnecias.
Previous tejuino discussion on General Board
1025 Rumrill Ave, Richmond, CA