An Asturian peasant has a bottle of cider in his right hand. His left hand holds a large glass that he places slightly below his hip. His right hand lifts the bottle above his head and, without moving his arm, a twist in his wrist pours the yellow, foamy liquid into the glass. The stream breaks on the edge, the oxygen in the air mixes with the cider’s froth and the peasant gulps down the content. This ritual has been repeated for centuries in Asturias, so much so that there has been an annual championship at the last 18 years to see who does it best.
Pablo Álvarez, from Lagar La Morena del Alto in Viella, was the champion in 2011. A native of Oviedo, Álvarez won five of the 20 scoring competitions last year. The world pourers’ championship brought together 574 professionals. Álvarez had been runner-up for three years before he won the title.
Despite being such an ancient art, pourers are not ignorant from social changes. Where four years only the nationals took part, the new people of Asturias are coming forth and more and more Latin Americans lay claim to their predominance in the hostelry sector. The runner-up in 2011, Aly Moncayo, is from Venezuela and in third place was Wilkin Aquiles Bautista, a Dominican from the Sidrería El Otru Mallu (Gijón).
Nor are they ignorant of changing technology. One of the nightmares of this group are the automatic pourers, machines that use a water pump and a couple of hooks placed strategically to pour the cider without any need for these professionals. The 2010 champion 2010, Félix de la Fuente, a person who even has a fan page on Facebook, believes that these apparatuses are aberrations and compares them with a machine for slicing ham and the love that specialised craftsmen put into it.
De la Fuente, a hero for his countrymen as he was the first to take the prize back to eastern Asturias, has a saying, “If you are going to pour cider, pour it well”. It’s as simple as that, and there is no apparatus that can imitate it.
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