Mexican Summer Beverages (Aqua Fresca) to Clear Heat
As I noted in a previous post, Lime is considered cooling in Chinese Medicine. Lime is also used a lot in Mexican cuisine, along with Cilantro/Coriander Leaf, to balance the intense heat of the various Chiles that were used by indigenous peoples in Mexico to stimulate the digestive fire/Agni to process the bland and a bit rough mix of Corn, Beans, and Squashes that were staples for the mass of people.
Rice, by the way, was introduced by the Spanish, along with cooking oil. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish, meats were boiled or grilled, as there was not extraction of seed oil, and pigs, like horses, were brought by the conquistadores, so there was no lard.
But this is about natural drinks to quench the thirst in summer without ice.
Mexican Aqua Fresca
Aqua Fresca (literally fresh water, or is it refreshing water?) are so simple to make. All you need is a blender and fresh fruit. Classics are watermelon, or any melon. I like to add a little lime, as it balances the sweetness of the fresh fruit. Mexican cookbooks might have you add sugar, or do fancy things with the rim of the glass, like dip it in Orange juice and then sugar, as you might for margaritas. If you want, but I definitely find adding any sugar to the actual drink unnecessary. Why add sugar to fresh fruit?
And melons are so cooling, there is no need to add ice, especially if the melon has been kept in the frig. But if you have to add ice, don't go Starbucks Frapaccino on your poor body.
Aqua Fresca are different than smoothies, as there is no dairy or thickener, they are watery. They are often ladeled into cups out of large glass barrels. Liquados can be compared to smoothies in the USA, but even they typically have fewer ingredients, and are often, though not always, thinner. They are typically made with milk, not yogurt, and one can even add nuts. Next post. But for summer consumption, on really hot days, when I am thirsty, but not hungry, I prefer Aqua Fresca, simple, without milk or nuts.
The milk and nuts thing makes it heavier and more like food than beverage a mi gusto.
Cantelope Aqua Fresca.
3 cups cantelope (or honeydew)
2-3 tsp lime juice, key lime is ideal
1-2 cups cold water, or more if you want it thinner.
Optional: 2-3 ice cubes
Discard melon seeds, scoop out melon being careful to avoid the peel. Put it all in the blender on high for 2-3 minutes and you should have a delicious and refreshing sweet and sour drink that quenches your thirst, refreshes your spirit, and feeds your soul.
Watermelon Aqua Fresca
Watermelon is very very cooling. In fact, in Chinese medicine, cooked watermelon rind is used for treating Urinary Tract Infections. This drink will definitely pass through your kidneys and bladder quickly.
In fact, if you use organic melon, then try including a bit of the rind. Even better, if you have a juicer, then juice a bunch of the rind, as that will separate out the fiber. I always recommend this when I treat bladder infections, nephritis, urethritis, or interstitial cystitis. In those cases I delete the salt.
3 cups ripe red watermelon, without the seeds.
2-3 cups cold water
a dash of salt
a bit of lime if you like it
Blend till smooth on the highest setting.
Cucumber (Pepino) Aqua Fresca
Cucumber is blended with yogurt as a kind of Lassi in India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran. More on that later. But cukes, especially the delightful Persian Cucumbers they now have even at Trader Joe's, are excellent Mexican style, as Aqua Fresca.
This is kind of a cucumber limeade.
2 American type cucumbers or about 6 Persian, depending on size
2 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
2 tbsp sweetener of your choice: I like honey, date syrup, or agave.
5 cups of water
A little bit of ice if you like
Peel, seed, and coarsely chop the cucumbers. Nice thing about the Persian cukes is you don't need to peel or seed them, the peel is so soft. Place in blender. Add water and sweetener and blend at high speed for two minutes.
Use any fruit you like: papaya, peaches, apricots, pineapple, mango, banana are all good. Sometimes I add a dash of coconut milk, but that leans the drink towards being a liquado (literally, a blended).
Three of the most famous Aqua Fresca are Horchata, made from rice, Tamarindo, made from tamarind fruit, and Jamaicha, made from Hibiscus flower. If you get them at a typical San Diego taco shop they are usually not home made, but instant, with artificial everything and a diabetic madness of white sugar. They second two are so easy to make. There are recipes all over the web.
copyright eyton shalom, aug 2011 san diego, all rights reserved
Here is a fun article w/more recipes.
And here is a good article for making pineapple A.F., with photos of how she strains it.
Ayurveda, Acupuncture, and Chinese Medicine in San Diegohttp://www.bodymindwellnesscenter.com