Taste Bud Travel

Just because you can’t travel to some exotic destination doesn’t mean that you can’t get a taste of that location–literally.  While my body is not physically experiencing being out of the country this summer, I am making sure that my taste buds are well traveled.  Trying the cuisine of other countries is something that I can do in the comfort of my own home, without breaking my bank account, and without having to worry about travel arrangements.

Past vacations in Mexico and a mission trip to Guatemala left me hungering to return to these places.  While my responsible adult schedule does not permit me to fly away there currently, that inability will not stop me from bringing the taste of these locations to me.

The other night I could close my eyes, take a sip and indulge in the fantasy of being in a Spanish-speaking country.  No alcoholic beverages were needed to bring this dream to mind.  I simply needed some initiative, a recipe, a few inexpensive ingredients and a common kitchen tool–my handy dandy blender.

My culinary itinerary called for me to imbibe a favorite beverage of Mexico and Guatemala called Horchata.  But to drink it, I first had to make it.  A favorite food magazine provided me a recipe that appeared to be quick and easy. Fortunately for me, the version of Horchata made in Mexico and Guatemala is rice-based.  In Africa, the drink is made with chufa–tiger nuts.  Not having any such nut trees in my yard or large cats willing to part with essential body parts, I was content to work with rice.

The first step of the recipe involved mixing up a cup of rice with some water in the blender.  Who doesn’t like pushing buttons, hearing a whirring noise, and watching stuff swirl around in the container before you?  I felt like a bit of a mad scientist making some strange creation.  I mean–uncooked rice in a blender??

The mixed up contents were then transferred to a bowl where more water was added.  Then the stuff had to sit for a few hours.  At the designated time, the white, watery mixture was strained to remove the rice remains.  A second bowl was required in which to whisk sugar and cinnamon together.  Just a whiff of cinnamon takes the imagination to an exotic location in one’s mind.  Splish, splash.  Add the rice water, a bit of milk, and vanilla extract.  Mmm!

Time to chill–literally and figuratively.  The beverage needs to be cool, so I had to cool my heels while that was happening.  Truth be told, I wasn’t very chill and did not wait the suggested amount of time.  I simply couldn’t wait to reach my taste bud’s travel destination.  I packed some ice cubes in a fun stemmed glass and VOILA!  Let the vacation in my mouth begin!

This experience was such fun travel for my taste buds that I am already eager to plan another such trip.  Where to next?

FOOD FOR THOUGHT:  To what destination would you like to travel?  If you can’t physically go there, what food or beverage from that location could you experience at home?