August 2015: A month to remember, Porteño edition

Argentina baijiu

“Top-shelf” baijiu in Buenos Aires’ Barrio Chino. At the time this was taken the peso was about 10 to the dollar. In China the same bottles both sell for under $20. Translation: not happening.

I don’t blog about baijiu much these days. Since releasing my baijiu book I’m kind of working against technological trends, doing most of my stuff in printed media or, worse still, human-to-human interaction. Look for my forthcoming work to be released papyrus and smoke signals.In all honesty a big part of my infrequent posting has to do with the fact that I currently live in Argentina, which despite being home to a good many Chinese people has yet to advance far beyond the chop suey stage of Eastern culinary development.

In case you are unfamiliar with the chart of Chinese gustatory evolution, it looks something like this:

white rice»chop suey»General Tso’s chicken»lazi ji»???»chicken feet and duck tongues»gelatinous sea creatures and fermented shit in dusty brown jars

Maybe baijiu is the missing link, who knows?

Anyway, if I want to drink baijiu in Buenos Aires, I can only afford (see picture above) buy that green bottle of Hongxing Erguotou. That stuff is everywhere. They ought to add it to the death and taxes list. Sure, it’s the best damned liquor on the market for less than $5 a bottle, but that’s an awfully low bar. If I want to find a friend with whom to drink it, I don’t get many takers (and I promised my wife that I wouldn’t force her to drink more baijiu a while ago).

So I’m kind of living in this weird baijiu-free zone. I still write about it when the spirit moves me—pun not intended, but I kind of love it—but most of my baijiu output is on the business end these days (more about that on a later day). Rarely do I feel that old compulsion to sit down and slap out a blog post.

All that changed last month. In August I embarked on a whirlwind trip that took me to four continents in the span of a few weeks. I was in New York and Vancouver, Guizhou and Beijing, and I have returned with a newfound appreciation for Chinese white lightening.

My palate has been reawakened, my baijiu-brain reinvigorated. When I think about China, I start smelling the syrupy pineapple hum of a Sichuanese strong-aroma baijiu. When I sleep at night, flying Moutai fairies dance around in my head. More important still, I have learned a few things I’m very excited to pass along, dear readers.

So where to begin? Well, we’ve covered Buenos Aires, so next post we’ll be talking about the Big Apple, where I visited Lumos, America’s first full-service baijiu bar, and celebrated the first ever World Baijiu Day.

Giddy up.

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