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La Hora de Horchata

Dispatch from Madrid | Published : 23/Jul/2007 13:30

Inside Horchatería Alboraya

Inside Horchatería Alboraya

If the above title makes you go “¿La Hora de QUÉ?”, you’re not alone. Only a short year ago, I myself did not know what horchata meant, much less what it tasted like. As it turns out, it tastes pretty good. If you’re in Madrid, dubious, I’ll tell you were to go to order a glass that will remove all your doubts.

Just as a brief introduction, horchata is a Valencian drink made basically of chufa nuts (which, to the best of my knowledge, are only grown in Valencia), water and sugar - perhaps, with some additional ingredients to give it more flavor (cinnamon, E-472c - you name it). One can drink it in big gulps from a glass or sip it delicately through a straw (pajita or cañita for the connoisseurs *).

Inside Horchatería Alboraya
Now, onto the venues. Supposedly, there are only a couple authentic horchaterías in Madrid. One is hidden somewhere deep in the district of Tetuán. But a born-and-bred Madrileña (the one on the left in the top photo) suggested we try the following, more centrally located, place to get acquainted with the drink:
Horchatería Alboraya
Calle de Alcalá 125, Madrid 28009
(m) Príncipe de Vergara
(located right next to one of the exits from the station)
Which we did... y nos gustó... mucho. Horchata is a milky substance that quenches your thirst, provides your body with a whole bunch of beneficial nutrients (it’s actually a good energy drink, too) and inspires you to make slurping noises. At Alboraya, you can sit inside, at the bar, take a table outside or even order “to go” (see the price list).

* P.S. The terminology is a little tricky here. In general, in Madrid, the word caña means a glass of beer (cañita being its diminutive form), but for the purposes of drinking horchata, cañita is a straw. The occasional misunderstanding while ordering at a horchatería could be funny:
- ¿Quieres una cañita?
- No gracias, ya me he tomado una...