Valencia, internationally renowned as the home of paella, is equally proud of its horchata, I learned from locals.
Horchata is a cold beverage made from ground tiger nuts, water and sugar. It was developed by the ancient Egyptians and brought to Valencia during the Moorish rule of the 8th to 13th centuries. Horchata is a refreshing summertime drink, available in specialist cafes called Horchaterias. According to the Valencia City Council, horchata is a collective definer and a cultural symbol. Horchata’s popularity has necessitated certification and protection to regulate quality and ensure the maintenance of Valencian custom and tradition. In 1995, the tiger nut acquired Denomination of Origin (DO) status to guarantee it is only grown in Valencia.
Nowadays, horchata is consumed throughout Spain. This reinforces Anderson’s view that each region has influenced the national culinary culture. It is the national beverage of many Latin American countries where, instead of the tiger nut, alternatives include rice, almonds, melon seeds and pumpkin seeds. Horchata is also currently trending in the US, as it is considered a super food, high in iron, potassium and vitamins. In Melbourne, horchata is not readily available as it remains in the realm of exotic and unknown. However, it is beginning to appear in restaurants such as Fonda and Los Latinos, in their endeavour to be “authentic”. Other venues serve horchata in a different fashion, for example, Touche Hombre’s horchata ice cream and horchata rice pudding and Smith and Daughters’ horchata cocktails.
I enjoyed it as per Valencian tradition; as a late afternoon snack accompanied by sweet bread rolls called fartons. I now understand why the region promotes horchata for gastronomic tourism.
Anderson, Lara. “The unity and diversity of La olla podrida: An authochthonous model of Spanish culinary nationalism.” Journal of Spanish Culinary Studies 14 4 (2013): 400-414.
Corrigan, Damian. “Horchata (Orxata) in Valencia.” About Travel, 16 March 2016, http://gospain.about.com/od/fooddrink/qt/horchataval.htm
Akoukou Thompson, Nicole. “Horchata: The history of the delicous beverage and how to make it at home.” Latin Post, 16 November 2013, http://www.latinpost.com/articles/3801/20131116/horchata-the-history-of-the-delicious-beverage-how-to-make-it-at-home.htm
Kristoff, Paul. “Touch Hombre new menu launch: Event.” The City Lane, 13 May 2015, http://thecitylane.com/touche-hombre-melbourne-new-menu-launch-event/
Kit&Kafoodle. “Touche Hombre”, Kit & Kafoodle, 5 May 2014, https://kitandkafoodle.com/2014/05/05/touche-hombre/
Regulatory Council of Denomination of origin tigernut of Valencia. “The City of Valencia will promote the horchata of tigernut from Valencia with Denomination of Origin.” Website of the Regulatory Council of Denomination of origin tigernut of Valencia, 26 January 2017, http://en.chufadevalencia.org/ver/896/The-City-of-Valencia-will-promote-the-horchata-of-tigernut-from-Valencia-with-Denomination-of-Origin.html
Horchata with fartons: https://www.travelgluttons.com/how-to-drink-horchata/
Featured image: http://costa.es/en/home-made-fartons/
Chufa (Tiger) nut: http://en.chufadevalencia.org/ver/362/-The-hidden-benefits-of-the-Chufa-of-Valencia–from-bread-to-sausage-with-health-properties.html
Other photo is from the author’s personal collection.