© 2013 Kevin Longa Spanish horchata de chufa

#FoodFriday: Refreshing, Holy Spanish Horchata de Chufa

The international food: Spanish Horchata de Chufa

Where to find it: El Cafe de las Monjas, Toledo, Spain


You grow parched as you traverse the town of Toledo. The quaint cobblestones in the streets don’t seem cute any longer as they radiate August sun into your exhausted ankles. And it’s as if this town, set atop a hill for medieval military reasons, thrusts its people and visitors under the burning magnifying glass of el sol de España. You escape into someplace cool. Across from a gravity-defying hillside cathedral, you find a small cafe called El Cafe de las Monjas, which literally translates to “The Cafe of Nuns.” That’s the name of salvation, my friends.

El Cafe de las Monjas’ server does not exude a saint-like presence at first. She approaches your table coated in three-layer eyeliner and armed with a tongue of scorn for ignorant foreign visitors. With arms crossed and eyes rolled she scratches your lunch order into her notepad. On the surface, she seems unsympathetic to your worn-out state. However, subtly, she takes note of it. She’s no affectionate nun, I’ll tell you that.

Yet, when she returns with her tray of nun-baked goodies, she serves up a chilled glass of deliverance: Spanish horchata de chufa. Her attitude may not scream ‘warmhearted nun,’ but this horchata does the job. The glass of white, milky horchata beads-up with sweet drops of perspiration. Inside the glass holds a blend of milk, sugar, cinnamon and, the secret ingredient, tiger nuts (or chufa). It’s divine.

The Spanish Horchata de chufa stands apart from the Mexican horchata drink. Instead of rice, the Spaniards use tiger nuts, which give the drink an almond flavor with a tangy kick. Within the arid lands of the middle east farmers grow these tiger nuts. These nuts not only give refreshment and salvation to an unholy, hot day in Toledo, but also tuberous energy packed with potassium and iron.

If you find yourself drinking horchata in Toledo, it’ll be like drinking the nectar of the gods. Or, at least, the refreshing drink of a slightly-scornful, slightly-saintly server.

Oh, wonderful horchata.


This is the second week in a seven-week journey as Longa Travels Productions attends the Draper University entrepreneurial program. Because of the rigorous curriculum and course schedule, food essays and writings might be on hold until the program ends.

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