A Drinkable Feast: Remembering Kerouac

A Toast To Kerouac

Hosho McCreesh
4 min read
Follow the Beat
( via getplowed.com )
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ADF returns this month to lament the end of another beautiful summer and mark the Oct. 21 death of Jack Kerouac. His wild and vibrant “spontaneous” prose pairs perfectly with one of Albuquerque’s finest pints and a tasty bite from a local food truck. As Kerouac, in his native French Canadian, would’ve said: “Bon appétit!”

Book: Big Sur by Jack Kerouac

A haunting meditation on alcoholism, death and literary fame—all dressed up as the fumblings of a failing Zen Buddhist,
Big Sur is the perfect bookend to Kerouac’s career. He skyrocketed to fame with the publication of On the Road in 1957 and was widely hailed as the voice of the Beat Generation. But by the time most of his books of youthful exuberance were published, Kerouac had transitioned into the bitter, road-weary alcoholic portrayed in Big Sur. His desire to know and understand his life and the world is palpable—and so, too, is his inability to find inner peace. This spidered-windshield of a book is filled with tenderness and madness, revealing Kerouac as a wind-blown bag of contradictions. It’s a mesmerizing and deeply human cautionary tale, and the perfect way to commemorate his passing.

Beer: Tractor’s La Llorona Amber

This ale is as haunted as Kerouac. All true New Mexicans know the heart-wrenching tale that inspires ADF’s brew this month. Trapped in a purgatory of her own making, La Llorona wanders the ditch banks, wailing and forever in search of her drowned children. So, too, did Kerouac wander, and he ended up every ounce as bitter and lonely as that mournful specter by his end. Tractor’s La Llorona is a silky amber—my draft looked slightly unfiltered and as gorgeous as Corrales acequia water—though it may well have been the last glass in the keg. It’s earthy on the nose, most certainly a beer with all the smoke and harvest of autumn. It starts toasty and bitter thanks in large part to the dry hopping, and the medium carbonation helps it finish slow and syrupy.

Food: Street Food Blvd tacos (two ways)

Kerouac’s road meets Big Sur’s SoCal style beach grub in a truck reminiscent of the State Fair food alley. Road-worn diners are invited to pull in to Street Food Blvd. at the end of a long summer drive. It offers up a delicious twist on local fare (think nachos and tacos)—and elevates its menu with fresh ingredients and clever flavor combinations. The standouts for this road-weary traveler were the fried avocado taco and the sumptuous brisket taco. First, the avocado: It had more in common with tempura than with that heavy, deep-fried batter one might expect at, you know, the State Fair. And the juicy brisket taco made perfect sense as both barbecue and as a taco—which is no small feat. Both were finished off with queso fresco and fresh toppings for a light bite with enough staying power to soak up a beer or three. The innovative menu looks to be in constant flux, but we recommend trying anything (and everything) with the brisket in it.

Buddhism teaches a "joyful participation in the sorrows of the world," and this month’s ADF offers up a dark and brooding triptych your inner Zen Buddhist can truly revel in: light and hearty grub; a smoky, vibrant local pint; and the conflicted madness of ignorant craving that Kerouac’s book chronicles. An afternoon spent meditating with each just might get us all one step closer to Nirvana. And for those who enjoy comparing films to the book that inspired them, last year saw a pretty damn good adaptation of
Big Sur from director Michael Polish. So until next month: Keep your beer local, keep your food bucks with food trucks, and keep the mind and spirit free by reading dangerous books.
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