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Horchata: A Rice-Cold Glass
Many Latin dishes pair naturally with a cool glass of horchata. Read on to discover more about this unique treat.
When Americans think of horchata, they’re usually thinking of the rice-based, Mexican version of the drink—sweet, pale, and refreshing, generally served over ice. But horchata is not exclusively Mexican, nor made only from rice: Cuban and Puerto Rican horchata, for example, uses sesame seeds, and Ecuadorean glasses glow red with a blend of 18 herbs. Even when using horchata’s most common, rice-based iteration, many restaurants add vanilla or fruit to the versatile beverage, complementing the sweetness of sugar and cinnamon.
Like the glasses of iced tea served across the United States, horchata is the New World translation of European traditions. In the 1700s, the first recorded recipe for the beverage appeared in Valencia, Spain, calling for a milky blend of chufa nuts, water, and sugar. Colonists brought the recipe to Latin America but were forced to improvise with indigenous ingredients instead of chufa nuts from home, which has led to the broad range of regional variations.