Churro (an appropriate name for this entry!), our housemate in Tarifa, grew up in Valencia and gave us a reminiscent guided tour around this breadbasket of Spain. After hopping around the city’s various markets (which I will recount in my next entry), we went to a horchateria for merienda (Spanish children’s afternoon snack) Valencian style…
Anyone who knows anything about Spanish food and culture will be familiar with the popular ‘chocolate con churros’. The Valencian alternative, very popular particularly amongst the youngest generation, is horchata con fardons… a milky drink that you soak up with what can only be described as the Spanish iced bun. Horchata, made from tiger nuts brought over by the Moors, is very distinct and hard to describe; though recurring flavours of the many varieties include cinnamon, vanilla, nutmeg, sesame and cocoa.
Surrounded by the combined atmospheres of a “typical e’spanish” kitchen and a Spanish take on an English cantine, with a background blur of the clattering of cutlery, four old ladies gossiping in one corner and a young family get together in another; Churro takes us on a journey back to his childhood when he used to come to this very place with his tía (auntie) as a special treat..
Forty two and full of character, I can just picture the young Churro without his wild hair, but with the same cheeky grin and huge innocent eyes, mischief written all over; eyeing up the horchata as he did today. Out poured the stories of the festival Las Fallas where giant storytelling dolls line the streets and the children’s bedtimes are pushed back into the early hours of the morning, a buzz of excitement in the air. During this festive period it is tradition to have horchata and another variety of dipping fun… buñuelos con chocolate (donut-shaped churros with the traditional melted chocolate). Churro told us about the game chocolata where the young children of the neighbourhood line the streets in pairs, boys opposite girls, and feed each other the buñuelos dipped in chocolate. Young children with melted chocolate provides a messy combination yes? Ok, now imagine this game blindfolded…! Thus, the children all wear bibs to keep their Sunday Best as pristine as possible..
I would just love to witness the young Churry playing this adorable game, but just seeing the glint in his eyes as the horchata arrived was enough!
We loved the snack, we loved the location, we loved the company… the real Valencian childhood experience!