There are a lot of things from home I miss here in Beijing, decent skincare, “normal” toilets, and of course my friends and family. But MOST of all, I miss my home cuisine, and the ingredients that are easy to buy in Western supermarkets. I want to recreate some food that my family miss, share my recipes, and know where to get the ingredients. If you see a blonde lady on a bike with a toddler and bags of groceries, that’s me, on the hunt for little pieces of home.
Another drink that has recaptured my attention (although not a winter brew) is horchata. My Mexican friend in Houston, Texas in the United States introduced me to this drink in college. And while asking around in the Beijing expat community about culinary delights we miss from home, this drink resurfaced. As usual there will be debate on how to make this drink and which version is the best. All the ingredients can be found anywhere in Beijing, but don’t be fooled as horchata will warm your soul like you are on an unpolluted beach.
Horchata comes from Valencia in Spain, where orxata was made from ordi (barley). Although nowadays in Spain horchata is not made with barley but with tiger nuts, water and sugar. Horchata is served as a refreshment with ice. Variations can be made with nuts, rice, seeds, herbs, ground almonds, and lime zest.
Horchata de Arroz (rice) is by far my favorite and I remember my friend taking me to stands by the street in the blistering heat in Texas for a refreshing drink.
½ cup rice Half cup raw almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon lime zest
6 cups of water
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
- Pulverize the raw rice in a blender.
- Combine the rice powder with almonds, cinnamon, and lime zest in a bowl and cover with half the water. Let stand overnight.
- Next day blend the mixture in a blender till smooth.
- Combine the mixture with 3 cups of water and blend again.
- Strain with cheesecloth or a clean kitchen towel.
- Add vanilla and sugar to taste.
- Serve over ice!
Pauline van Hasselt has been working for beijingkids since October 2016. Born in Wassenaar, The Netherlands, she moved with her husband and her 3 year-old daughter to Beijing in June of this year. Prior she lived in the Netherlands, Belgium, Paraguay, Texas, and London, studying and working as a chef. Pauline enjoys biking around Beijing, finding markets and new restaurants, reading crime and fantasy books in bed, and most importantly, turning her house into a home for her family.