Monday, October 11, 2010

Culinary Spain

Touring Spain, the University of Miami Frost Choral will taste some of the local specialities. Here are descriptions for some of the foods and drinks:


Horchata or orxata is the name of several kinds of traditional beverage, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts (chufas). The name comes from Valencian orxata, probably from ordiata, made from ordi (barley). The French and English 'orgeat', the Italian 'orzata', and the Surinamese Dutch orgeade have the same origin, though the beverages themselves have diverged, and are generally no longer made from barley. Various folk etymologies exist – one legend links the origins of the name to James I of Aragon, who after being given the drink for the first time by a local in Alboraia, was said to have exclaimed "Això és or, xata!" ("That's gold, darling!"). In Spain, it usually refers to orxata de xufa (horchata de chufa), made from tigernuts, water, and sugar. Originally from Valencia, the idea of making horchata from tigernuts comes from the period of Muslim presence in Valencia (from the 8th to 13th century). It has a regulating council to ensure the quality of the product and the villages where it can come from, with the Denomination of Origin. The village of Alboraia is well known for the quality of its horchata. It is served ice cold as a natural refreshment in the summer. Tigernut horchata is also used in place of milk by the lactose intolerant. The horchata is traditionally served with fartons, a finger shaped pastry.

Merienda is a light meal, usually taken in the afternoon or for brunch - it fills in the meal gap between lunch at noon and dinner, or between breakfast and lunch. It can be anything from a piece of French-style bread with a piece of chocolate on top, to bread with chorizo, ham or salami. Simplicity is typically key as the meal is not meant to spoil one's appetite for the proper dinner.

Agua de Valencia
Agua de Valencia (English: Water of Valencia) is a cocktail made from a base of cava or champagne (wine), orange juice, vodka and gin - the travelers of the Frost Chorale will indeed be served the alcohol free version of it. In general, it is served in pitchers of various sizes and is drunk in a broad cocktail glass. It was made for the first time in 1959 by Constante Gil in the bar Café Madrid de Valencia in the city of Valencia. According to the writer María Ángeles Arazo in her book "Valencia Noche" the bar was frequented at that time by a group of Basque travellers that used to order "Agua de Bilbao", referring to the bar's best cava. Tired of always ordering the same thing, they challenged the owner to offer them something new and he suggested that they try the "Agua de Valencia". They agreed to try what Gil made, and liking it, they continued to drink it in later visits. For a decade the drink was known only to a small group of clients and it wasn't until the 1970s that it started to become known in the wider Valencian nightlife. Since then, it has grown to be a very popular drink.

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