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In the heart of Oaxaca, Mexico, mezcal makers sometimes hang what inside the still during distillation to make a special kind of mezcal?

A. Grasshoppers

B. Coffee beans

C. Turkey breasts

D. Rattlesnake skin

C.

To make a special savory/spicy mezcal known as mezcal de pechuga (pechuga is Spanish for breast), maestro mezcaleros (master mezcal makers) traditionally hang skinless turkey or chicken breasts inside the still during a third distillation.  Variations include deer, rabbit, and even iguana. The steam cooks the meat as the spirit distills, allowing the meat’s fat and juices to drip into the mezcal. Collagen released from the protein creates a rich, robust mouthfeel not found in most mezcals. The meat also provides a subtle savory note that balances the sweetness of fruits and grains often steamed with it.  Mezcal, by the way, is slightly different than tequila.  Mezcal can be produced from up to 28 varieties of agave, around the city of Oaxaca and a few surrounding states. Tequila is made only from blue agave and must be produced in the state of Jalisco and its environs. Mezcal is made by roasting or grilling the agave hearts in pits (for its unique, smoky flavors), while tequila makers bake them in above-ground ovens.

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