black rice horchata

Arroz negro horchata: un cambio de bebidas de arroz blanco ::::



Right now, I am somewhere in the state of wakefulness and profound sleep, but I’m not sure I can qualify it as lucidity. I am happily sleepy, though, with a life that full and usually fun. The last month has been extremely busy: a little job hunting (as my stint at my current position is coming to an expected and planned end), waves of more patients with diagnoses or idiosyncrasies often coming in threes, my readying of next month’s Hawaii vacation and my home’s dire need to be deep cleaned from winter dust and dregs. I try to wrap up my medical charting paperwork usually at home when the kids are finally asleep; I assess three patients with hip pain referred from the lumbar spine’s facet joints and three patients with chronic pain who insist and demand that they MUST have an MRI of the entire spine AGAIN though the initial MRIs were normal; I obssess over my need for order on the communal desk littered with our bills and checkbooks, Peach’s drawings of butterflies and rotund-bottomed princesses, an occasional stray whisker from the cat, and more than one unread medical journal. I change diapers, clean up spilled milk, and go to toddler music classes. My life is very full.


So then why is it that I think I can add another activity onto my dance card? Why do I even attempt to think that I can cram into my brain, already whirling with a complicated calendar, just one more thing? It is because I am one who moves until she cannot move, when forced, when pushed into sleep after days of spinning like a top, a gyroscope toppling finally, and coming to a stop. To fill that time, to gauge my ability to focus on new learning, to cue myself that I have had enough, I started learning Spanish. Or trying anyway.

I don’t speak Spanish. I don’t pretend to know Spanish. I occasionally pick up words in conversation, speckled in with trills of “r”, but I am embarrassingly inept at any attempt of speaking it. That is why I would love to rewind time, forget the junior high and high school French classes, and focus on the trills rather than the throaty hhhhhh and oooooo of boulangerie  or haricots verts.   I see how important it is to be bilingual, even polyglot, especially in my profession when there are so many patients who need health care providers to understand their needs in their native language. I have learned a few things so far. I can say “I have one peso.” I like to say restaurante  because the rolling r makes it sound way more interesting than “restaurant” in English. And, most importantly, my capacity to retain random phrases in Spanish diminishes with the time of day. But my capacity to recall wonderful Mexican food is frequently better at night.

It was in Chicago, near where my younger brother lived that I first had horchata, the Mexican rice drink. Why have I not had this before?  I wondered at the time.  Why don’t more people know about this?  It was a little nutty, almost creamy, and just enough sugar and cinnamon to make it almost like a dessert. Since then, I have found a recipe for horchata, made it several times, then decided to change it up, with black rice.

The black rice gives the drink a speckly grey look. Dreamlike, maybe, on the verge of lucidity. It looks a little weird but is exactly what I need to rejuvenate before trying to remember more than Tengo un peso.


black rice horchata
Recipe type: drink
Prep time: 
Total time: 
  • 1¼ cup black rice
  • 1-inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup whole almonds, toasted and cooled*
  • 4 cups water (you may add ½ cup more water, if mixture seems too thick)
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 strip of lime zest
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice (don't forget this!)
  1. Pulverize rice and cinnamon into a fine powder using a spice grinder. (To grind most effectively, do in small batches.) Add to 2-quart container (with lid) and water.
  2. Pulverize almonds (if not using almond meal) and add to container. Allow to sit at room temperature for 12 hours.
  3. Add sugar and lime zest. Place all into a blender and blend well. Strain through cheesecloth, pressing solids. Discard solids.**
  4. Add lime juice and chill before serving.
* Alternatively, you can use almond meal to obviate the need to grind the nuts. ** Don't try to eat these. I did. NOT GOOD.


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