When I think of summer, I think of long days by the beach, sandy hair, afternoon naps, cozy evenings by the bonfire, and laughter, much laughter. Summers in Peru were always filled with family, simple meals and refreshing aguas frescas.
If you never had agua fresca (Spanish for fresh water), it is a light, kid-friendly fruit drink served by street vendors, in bodegas, and at eateries throughout Central and South America. They are made by combining fresh fruits with sugar and water. Sometimes grains, seeds, and even flowers can be added.
Common fruit and vegetable versions include cantaloupe, watermelon, berries, cucumbers, and lime. The flavor of fresh fruit, by blending it with water and straining out the pulp, results in basically everything you’ve ever wanted fruit juice to be: a refreshing, not-too-sweet drink that actually tastes like fruit. Anything with melon was my favorite!
They’re perfect for this time of year because they practically beg to be sipped outside and they are very easily scaled up to make a refreshing pitcher drink. This lovely refreshing drink is the perfect alternative from the norms of ice water, lemonade and soda. It’s hard to believe that something so simple can be so good!
With this week’s box of good menu, the options for aguas frescas are endless: melon-nectarine, apple-grape, and apple-kiwi, to name a few!
Regardless of the fruits and vegetables available at the local market, our summer menus growing up always included a salad. The schedule goes: soup and entrée during fall and winter, salad and entrée during spring and summer. And to this day, it remains the same. I recently spent two months back home in Peru and was glad to see that some things never change. Meal schedules are the same, people take naps, families gather together for tea time, and going to the bakery to get fresh bread at 6:00 p.m. feels like going shopping during Black Friday.
One particular salad was always present during our summer family gatherings: grape and cabbage salad with a light creamy vinaigrette—a nice combination of sweet, salty, tart, crunchy, and creamy all in one bite. What else can you ask for from a salad? Serve it as a side with grilled meats, in tacos or tostadas, or use it in sandwiches and wraps. Crisp, fresh, delicious and easy to make!
I am always amazed how food can evoke so many memories. I hope you have time to partake of a few mementos this summer, from family favorite foods, to outdoor walks after a summer rain.
Sara Balcazar-Greene (aka. Peruvian Chick)
Peruvian Food Ambassador