If you're looking for a way to cool down in the summer heat and another glass of water just won't cut it, try these local thirst-quenchers.
Horchata de chufa (Castilian) or orxata de xupa in Catalan, is a common sight in the summer months, with plenty of café blackboards advertising the drink's milky, refreshing taste to the thirsty passerby. But what is it made from, where did it come from and where can you get the best orxata in Barcelona?
Not to be confused with the Mexican version, whose principal ingredient is rice, Spanish horchata uses chufa, or tiger nuts, which originally came from the Moors who brought it to these shores and started extensively cultivating the grass. Nowadays it is mainly grown in the Valencian region and it is fair to say that horchata is the area's adopted beverage of choice but it remains a popular drink all over the country when the temperatures rise.
When summer rolls around, most cafés start to include horchata in their drinks menu and you can also buy it ready-made in supermarkets, but if you want to try and make it yourself, firstly you will have to obtain the nuts or gnarly root which you can normally buy from most fruta seca (dried fruit) stalls in your local market or in some of the bigger supermarkets.
1 kg chufas, 1 kg sugar, 5 litres of water, 1 cinamon stick
1. Firstly clean the chufas, rinsing well with cold water.
2. Once clean, you need to soak the roots in cold water for 12-14 hours.
3. Once done, rinse again until the water runs clear.
4. Then mash the chufa by hand or in a blender to make a soft paste - add water if required.
5. Next add all the water to the paste and add the cinnamon stick and place the mixture in the fridge to cool for around 2 hours.
6. When chilled add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
7. You then have to pass the liquid through a metal strainer and then through a damp fine-cloth until there are no large lumps left.
8. You should now have a smooth milky liquid. Place in the fridge to cool and serve when icy-cold.
9. You can also put the drink into the freezer so it can be enjoyed as a slushy refreshment. Make sure you stir it occasionally so it does not freeze solid.
Another popular drink that is equally refreshing during the summer is the granizado in Castilian or granissat in Catalan—this is a crushed iced drink that is traditionally lemon flavoured, although it is now available in a range of flavours including coffee, strawberry and orange. Like horchata, granizado machines become omnipresent in summer and you can get a cup from almost every café but you are most likely to get the best ones at a local ice-cream stall: heladeria (Castilian) or gelateria (Catalan).
Other options for cooling down in the summer include café con hielo (café amb gel in Catalan), an espresso shot that comes with a glass full of ice cubes for you to pour the coffee over. You can also ask for a café con leche (white coffee) con hielo (café amb llet amb gel), but this is less typical here and there might not be quite enough room for your coffee in the ice-filled glass, so be careful as you pour! For a sparkling water experience, the local speciality is Vichy Catalan, a mineral-filled (and slightly salty tasting) glass of goodness that is said to be good for hangovers.