Conception, the King of Tuba, a Puerto Vallarta magic mix
Constantine is very regal as he stands along the river walk in his pristine white outfit with his jug of the coconut drink Tuba. Constantine perfected his craft while living in Acapulco before bringing his recipe to Puerto Vallarta. “Only 12 licenses are granted to vendors to sell Tuba in Puerto Vallarta,” our guide said. We were on a Scavenger hunt as part of the NATJA (National Association of Travel Writer’s) conference when I had a chance to try my first sip of Tuba.
Constantine is thought of as the grandfather of Tuba and he wears his title well. He took his tribute undaunted as we praised his sweet drink that was quite refreshing in the sultry Mexican heat.
The creation of tuba is quite an endeavor. Made from the milky white sap of the coconut tree Tuba is sometimes mixed with Barok the bark of the mangrove tree. In Puerto Vallarta not far from the Vela Vallarta resort where they stayed there was El Salado an ecological reserve where I had the chance to see a Mangrove swamp firsthand and get an idea what the bark of a mangrove tree would look like.
Other times Tuba is created with sap as the only ingredient. The sap is collected and allowed to ferment and distill. The drink we had was white in color so I believe this was the process used for our refreshment.
Coconut sap is collected in a bamboo container from the flower of the coconut tree. To obtain the sap, the farmer climbs the tree then cuts the flower and the flower discharges the sap that is the nectar of the Tuba.
Amazingly a tree can produce a liter of tuba a day! As far as Conception’s special Tuba, he uses only the Juice secreted from the palm of the coconut palm, walnuts, apples, sugar and his own secret ingredients that he mixes, stirs and lets it set overnight.
Some places the drink is allowed to ferment and distill to become a coconut wine. Fermentation is done in a glass or plastic container. On the Puerto Vallarta Food Tour website http://puertovallartafoodtours.com/menus/tuba-by-concepcion they confirm our opinion of Constantine and his drink. “He is the most sought after and has been doing his secret recipe for more than 14 years.”
“Conception is found wondering the streets of Vallarta on Tuesday – Sunday from 10 am till 7pm. Just look for the guys with cool white hat”, is how they advise finding this master of the mix.
“He is used to getting his picture taken,” our guide said as I asked to pose with the dignified man that has managed to make a niche out of a flower on a tree in this tropical paradise!