[Sca-cooks] Horchata - Barley Water

Lilinah lilinah at earthlink.net
Sat May 19 10:20:02 PDT 2007

G. Tacitus Adamantius wrote:
>  Suey wrote:
>>  "Someone asked about horchata being barley water or
>>  something like that. The word horchata (orgeat in
>>  English), comes from the Latin: hordeata (made with
>>  barley) fr. hordeum (barley). Yes originally is was
>>  cooling drink made with barley. Later nuts of various
>>  types were used. It was a common drink among
>>  Hispano-Arabs, especially in Cordova by the 10th C at
>>  least. In 15th C. Castile, it was made from orange
>>  flower water and barley, almonds or other nuts. Later,
>>  Valencias substituted barley for rice. It was not
>>  until the late 17th C that the earthnut was used to
>>  make the orgeat that known there today."
>  What I'm wondering is whether the earthnut referred to above is the
>  modern groundnut, or what Americans call peanuts...

Nope, definitely not peanuts. It's a different critter. Apparently 
these can sometimes be found in Asian markets... I suspect that 
almonds replaced the pignuts/earthnuts.

Here's what Epicurious says:

Earthnuts, see Chufa

Chufa; chufa nuts
Actually the tiny, tuberous roots of an African plant of the sedge 
family, chufa "nuts" are immensely popular in Spain and Mexico, 
primarily as a base for the refreshing drink, HORCHATA. They have a 
brown, bumpy skin and a sweet, chestnutlike flavor. Dried chufas are 
available in bags in many Latin markets and health-food stores. Store 
them, tightly wrapped, in a cool, dark place for up to a year. 
Besides their use in horchatas, chufas make an excellent snack. 
They're also known as earth almonds, earthnuts  and tiger nuts.

Articles Archive.net says:

Earthnuts or Pignuts (Conopodium Majus)

An edible tuber common in British woodlands.

Although these tasty tubers are beloved of pigs (hence the name) they 
are a most unusual and rewarding woodland snack and there was a time 
when they were a popular nibble for country children on their way to 
and from school. The fern like leaves appear along with the Lesser 
Celandine in the spring. During May and July they develop umbellifer 
heads with white flowers not unlike Cow Parsley. According to Gerard 
and others the Dutch once ate them 'boiled and buttered, as we do 
parseneps and carrots'.
Unearthing a pignut is a delicate operation. The root disconnects 
from the tuber very easily, which can be several inches from where 
the stem appears above ground.
Follow the stem under the earth using careful scraping with a twig, 
fingernail or knife. Eventually you will reach the pignut, which is 
covered with a chestnut coloured skin. If you can wash the nut at 
this stage it avoids getting muddy fingernails while peeling. Scrape 
off the papery outer coating to reveal the Earthnut.
The older name for Earthnuts is 'Earth Chestnuts' and this gives you 
a clue to their taste - a chestnut texture but with a more earthy 
There's nothing like carefully digging one of these up during a walk 
in the woods. Do it with your fingernails. As the earthy taste hits 
the senses you are drawn more completely into contact with the nature 
around you. A true 'pomme de terre'.
Gerard's Herbal mentions that 'There is a Plaister made of the seeds 
hereof, whereof to write in this place were impertinent to our 
historie'....Probably witches again!

Earthnuts also get a mention in Shakespeare's 'Tempest', from Caliban 
as he promises:
"I prithee, let me bring thee where crabs grow;
And with my long nails I will dig thee pignuts".

From: A FIRST WILD HERBAL by Simon Mitchell

Urtatim (that's err-tah-TEEM)
the persona formerly known as Anahita

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