Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chicha Wars!

El Portal de la Chicha, with protest signs.
Chicha, a drink made by fermenting corn, is Bogotá's most traditional brew. It's said that in past centuries so much chicha was made in La Candelaria that they used it to put out house fires.

Chicha has survived centuries of time and lots of opposition - including even deadly street battles against beer and liquor sellers. Today, commercially-made beer and whiskey have cut into chicha's market share, but the drink is still consumed in small bars all over the city - and particularly those along La Candelaria's cobblestone Callejon del Embudo, where university students crowd the small, dark chicha bars until late at night.

A mural goes up in el Callejon del Embudo.
But now Bogotá has plans to renovate and upscale the city center, and the chicha bars apparently are an unpleasant eyesore which the city wants replaced with sush bars and nicely-painted botique hotels. Tradition - who cares? Police have given the chicherias just a little while to shut down. 

But the bar owners are organizing to defend this most Bogotan of Bogotá drinks.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogota Bike Tours

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