Thursday, January 20, 2011

Bizarre Foods #2 - Horchata

Bizarre Foods # 2 - Horchata
original watercolor and ink illustration.

I remember watching the Spain episode of Bizarre Foods and being shocked at how absolutely disgusted Andrew Zimmern was after taking a sip of this sweet nutty drink. I mean, this is a guy who gleefully chows down on bull testicles, pig's ears, and unborn chickens. And I drank horchata. I LOVED horchata. Well, Mexican horchata anyways. Perhaps the Spaniards had it all wrong?

A quick a-googling revealed that while Mexican horchata is made with rice, sugar and cinnamon, soaked in water then whirred together, Spanish horchata is made with tiger nuts, or chufa, which apparently isn't a nut at all, but rather a tuber. So maybe Andrew was on to something?

Fast forward to 2009, when I traveled to Barcelona on my honeymoon. After our breakfast of cava and an iberico ham sandwich (ohgoodgodhowimissspain) we sought out some horchata. And you know what? It was freaking delicious! Yes, different than the rather milky Mexican horchata, but pleasingly nutty and refreshing.

Which leads me to ponder if Andrew's disgust was due to expectations based on a simple misunderstanding of the ingredients. Perhaps he was expecting a drink made from tiger's nuts?


  1. I'm admittedly not the hugest fan of the Spanish horchata. I've not had the Mexican variant with rice substituted, but the one way I do indeed enjoy it is with a scoop of chocolate ice cream in it. They call it a Cubano, which is rather wrong on many levels, the least of which being that "Cubano" is slang for a boob screw.

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