Let’s Talk Horchata

I’ve recovered from our sour defeat in the World Cup – after my long 4 months of devotion to my new country, I gave them exactly 15 minutes of mourning and then I moved on. This weekend was our Anniversary weekend. All those years ago, we were wide eyed and optimistic. Fresh faced dreamers believing that this crazy experiment in cohabitation and monogamy should be made permanent. So we got married. So far so good.

When I say it’s ‘our anniversary’ I need to include Emilie in that because it’s also the anniversary of her adoption day 10 years ago. We had fostered her for two years from the age of 4. Every day she would ask ‘Is this the day you ‘dopt me?’ and every day I would say, ‘Not today but very soon’. When they scheduled the court hearing to finalize her adoption on our wedding anniversary I just couldn’t ask them to change it. And ever since then Emilie refers to it as ‘Our Anniversary’, meaning all three of us.

Everybody gets cards and presents. They used to be home made – I liked those. Now they’re store bought and that has proved interesting here. I went out a month ago – knowing this day was approaching – and bought some blank cards at EL Corte Ingles. I stood there with two guys from the UK who were looking for blank cards too, because none of us could work out what the others said. Clearly, Jeff didn’t take this approach.

Tonight I opened my card and it told me that I was stupendous amongst the world and it wished me congratulations – in Spanish. It was as though I had won some sort of prize. It took me a moment to realize that perhaps Jeff was the reward and he was congratulating me on my ‘estupendas’ taste.

Jeff and I haven’t had an anniversary dinner alone in 10 years. But we do try to sneak away for a lunch or to do something that is, sort of, just the two of us around that time. Sometimes it’s just been taking a walk. This time we hopped on the motorcycle and headed up to Sagunto to walk up to the castle and have a little snack in the afternoon. Of course, we selected the day that most closely resembled Dante’s inferno, so it was hot. Like 40 degrees hot!

Sagunto is a nice little town and the old district at the base of the castle reminds me of the Plaka that sits at the foot of the Acropolis in Athens – but less tschatchky or touristy. It’s well tended, lovely warren of streets, cafes and ceramics shops are a picturesque back drop to the very steep climb to the top – which we discovered half way up that you can drive to. Once out of the town, it’s a shady ramble up the hillside under pine trees. So that was a little cooler. The old Roman theatre puts on big theater and music productions. They’ve build a more modern structure on the front to house the stage, etc. while the audience sits in the old stone seats.

Before heading home to the A/C, we decided to have a cool drink and I veered into the unknown. Everywhere, I mean everywhere here, there are Horchaterias. These are places that specialize in the local drink made from crushed Tiger nuts and rice milk. Some places freeze it so it’s like a slushy milkshake. Some places just serve it cold. It’s supposed to be a great way to beat the heat.

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The term ‘Tiger Nut’ is a bit of a misnomer. These are actually tubers and are grown in soil, with a grass like top sticking out of the ground. There are fields and fields of them in Alboraya. So because the day was so bloody hot, I decided that this was the perfect moment to try Horchata. Well, now that that’s over. Yeah. It starts out sweet and then quickly transitions to an earthy flavor – think dirt. Jeff described the finish as the taste of his front lawn as a kid. I thought it had notes of old celery. But either way, we’re done with that no matter how blasphemous it might be in Valencia.

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After watching Emilie play beach volleyball for awhile, the three of us finished of the night at a lovely dinner on the Med. The best steaks in Valencia with heavenly desserts. Walking back, the breeze at the beach was cooler, the light with the sun setting gave everything a warm glow. The perfect way to end ‘Our Anniversary’.