Share This Blog Post

Instagram

2/20/2017

Horchata, Chufa de Valencia, Tigernuts, A Tuber Cultivated by the Ancient Egyptians and the Moors, Who Left an Enduring Legacy with This Drink Along the Mediterranean


* * * * * 
All photographs by Gerry Dawes©2017. 
(Publication prohibited without written permission.)

Chufas are now widely grown in the sandy soils of La Comunitat Valenciana and are used to the make the very popular milky-like drink, horchata de chufa, L'Orxatería, Mercat Central de Valencia.

D. O. Chufa de Valencia display at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017.

Tigernuts or chufas (also known as almendras de la tierra, earth almonds), as they are known in Spanish are not a nut, they are a tuber.  Chufas were cultivated and prized for their healing and regenerative powers back in ancient Egypt and traces of them have been found in Egyptian tombs.  Chufas are now widely grown in the sandy soils of La Comunitat Valenciana and are used to the make the very popular milky-like drink, horchata de chufaChufas even have their own denominación de origen status (like wines), Chufa de Valencia. 

Horchata at a outside terrace table at Peret on the magnificient palm tree-lined Explanada pedestrian-only walkway just across from the port of Alicante.

The tigernut about the size of an almond, but round-shaped and with a rough, pitted exterior.  As a tuber, it is buried beneath the ground until it is harvested and prepared for consumption. The chufa tubers are harvested, washed to rid them of sand or small stones, then dried in the sun for two-to-three months and turned several times to insure even drying.  Later, the chufas are rehydrated by soaking them in water for several hours, often overnight, then either blended with water and sugar and drunk as horchata and eaten as a snack, like almonds or peanuts, except the chufa has a natural sweetness.   


Directora General de Turisme de la Generalitat Valenciana (Director of Tourism for La Comunitat Valenciana) Raquel Huete Nieves tastes a chufa, which is sweet and can be eaten as a snack, from la Comunitat Valenciana at Asisa Madrid Fusión 2017.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2017 #amf17

The chufa is though to have arrived in Spain in the Levante, the Comunitat Valenciana, during the Moorish occupation of Spain.  The Moors brought in irrigation channels and made the dry regions of the Mediterranean flourish with citrus groves, almond trees, chufa plantations and other crops. 

Chufa de Valencia, the Tigernut tuber that is using to make the very popular drink horchata, a sweet refreshing cold drink that can be readily found in the provinces of Valencia and Alicante.

Though horchata is mostly associated with a cold summer drink, it is served all year round in la Comunitat Valencia–the provinces of Valencia, Alicante and Castellón–often in special cafes called Orxaterías, horchata can be found all of over Spain in cafeterias and bars that offer it as a specialty drink.  I love to drink horchata at L'Orxatería located just outside the main entrance to the Mercat Municipal de Valencia or sitting outside at a table at Perot on the magnificient palm tree-lined Explanada pedestrian-only walkway just across from the port of Alicante. 

 L'Orxatería del Mercat Central de Valencia, offering chocolate, churros, orxata (horchata), gelats artisanals (artisanal ice cream), granissats (flavored ices) and suc de taronja (fresh-squeezed orange juice) at the entrance to Valencia's main market, Jan. 15, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

L'Orxateria is the café closest to the stairs to the main entrance to the Mercat Central, Valencia, to the left of the famous paella pan and kitchen utensil stands, Jan. 15, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS USM.

Kay Balun sipping horchata at Peret Horchateria on la Explanada in Alicante.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2015.

 Churros con chocolate and horchata at L'Orxatería, Mercat Central, Valencia, Jan. 15, 2014.  Photo by Gerry Dawes©2014 / gerrydawes@aol.com / Facebook / Twitter / Pinterest.  Canon EOS 6D / Canon 24 105mm f/4L IS USM.
___________________________________________________________________________________________
About Gerry Dawes

 Gerry Dawes was awarded Spain's prestigious Premio Nacional de Gastronomía (National Gastronomy Award) in 2003. He writes and speaks frequently on Spanish wine and gastronomy and leads gastronomy, wine and cultural tours to Spain. He was a finalist for the 2001 James Beard Foundation's Journalism Award for Best Magazine Writing on Wine, won The Cava Institute's First Prize for Journalism for his article on cava in 2004, was awarded the CineGourLand “Cinéfilos y Gourmets” (Cinephiles & Gourmets) prize in 2009 in Getxo (Vizcaya) and received the 2009 Association of Food Journalists Second Prize for Best Food Feature in a Magazine for his Food Arts article, a retrospective piece about Catalan star chef, Ferran Adrià. 

In December, 2009, Dawes was awarded the Food Arts Silver Spoon Award in a profile written by José Andrés

". . .That we were the first to introduce American readers to Ferran Adrià in 1997 and have ever since continued to bring you a blow-by-blow narrative of Spain's riveting ferment is chiefly due to our Spanish correspondent, Gerry "Mr. Spain" Dawes, the messianic wine and food journalist raised in Southern Illinois and possessor of a self-accumulated doctorate in the Spanish table. Gerry once again brings us up to the very minute. . ." - - Michael & Ariane Batterberry, Editor-in-Chief/Publisher and Founding Editor/Publisher, Food Arts, October 2009. 
 
video
Pilot for a reality television series on wine, gastronomy, culture and travel in Spain.
 
Related Posts with Thumbnails