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Ni chicha, ni limonada

In the Andes, chicha is the beverage of champions. It's basically corn beer. The flavor? Slightly sweet and somewhat moldy. It's usually made thorugh open fermentation (letting the natural yeasts do their work).

Occasionally, other bugs find their way into the brew, including nasty bacteria. This wouldn't stop me from drinking the stuff. But a dear Colombian friend told me that you can't get chicha in his country, at least not legally, because of a debilitating disease called "chichsimo," which was discovered in the last century.

In a rare show of consumer protectionism (certainly pre-dating what remaining consumer protections we take for granted here in the U.S.), the Colombian government actually outlawed chicha. Naturally, the family that controlled the flow of chicha was given the beer concession and overnight the chicherias were turned into beer houses.

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