María Luisa de Rangel cracks two raw chicken eggs over a blender full of frozen fruit before she adds the infant cereal or the ox’s eyeball. At her juice and sandwich shop, Super Batidos de María Luisa de Rangel, in the midst of Mérida, Venezuela’s Mercado Principal, she is making her most famous aphrodisiac-energy smoothie.
She calls it Levantón Andino, meaning Andean boost, and she's been selling it for the last 27 years. “My husband and I needed to get more people choosing our juice shop,” she says, “so we came up with a drink no one else had.”
They asked each of their closest family members to come up with a single ingredient that would add to the drink’s character. The family provided 25 in total, and one more that María keeps secret. She dashes a bit of this on top of the eggs.
The experimentation phase went quickly once the ingredients were decided on. Besides token smoothie regulars like fruit, milk, and sugar, the Levantón Andino is full of local oddities like Chuchuhuaza liquor extracted from the Chuchuhuasi tree of the Amazonian rainforest and a homemade, fermented sugar liquor called Miche Callejonero. María’s husband had the idea for the ox’s eyeball and she buys them direct from a local farmer.
Each ingredient carries with it it’s own benefit, and María explains this largely on the principal that you are what you eat. She drops two small quail eggs, in the shell, into the blender. “The eggs promote fertility,” she says. She plucks an ox’s eyeball the size of a golf ball from a cooler full of them. “The eye is very good for improving vision.”
Next, what goes in the blender...