agua fresca

Pronunciation: [AH-gwah FREHS-kuh]

Spanish for "fresh water," agua fresca is a refreshing drink popular throughout Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean; it's also found in many Mexican restaurants in the United States. The base for this beverage is sugar and water, which is flavored with various additions. Fruit versions include agua de sandía (made with watermelon) and agua de melón (cantaloupe or other melon). Other popular fruit additions include guava, mango, papaya and strawberries. Non-fruit renditions include agua de horchata (made with cinnamon, milk, rice and vanilla), agua de jamaica (flavored with dried hibiscus flowers), agua de pepino (cucumbers) and agua de tamarindo (made with tamarind seeds). Fruits and ingredients like cucumbers are puréed before being added to the sugar-water base. Agua fresca can be seen in Mexican restaurants in large, glass jars—it pairs particularly well with that spicy cuisine. In Mexico this cool, refreshing beverage is so popular that myriad street vendors sell it daily.

From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.

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