Today’s trip to the local tianguis (farmer’s market) introduced me to my new favorite pre-columbian beverage, tepache. Served cold from a barrel, tepache is the product of fermenting pineapple skins and rinds with piloncillo, aka panela, a dark brown sugar made from unrefined cane sugar. I first met piloncillo as panela in Guatemala where it was sold in the farmer’s markets in giant chunks the size and shape of gold bars. Panela, with its naturally occurring vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, is one of those traditional Latin American foods that serves as a nutritious alternative to the white, processed sugar now prevalent. We even used it to successfully ferment kombucha in Nebaj, so it wasn’t surprising to hear it’s function in tepache. Thanks to the active cultures used to ferment tepache, the final product isn’t very sweet, but rather comes off like a hardy ice tea, the perfect companion for a newly-arrived Mexican spring.