It is a tradition in Mexico in many homes to have “agua fresca” with the main meal. We always made enough so that there was plenty left over in the refrigerator in case visitors came by. “Agua fresca” is made in a wide variety of flavors using seasonal fruits like pineapple, watermelon, lemons, oranges, and papaya. It can also be made with cereals like rice or oatmeal.
A couple days ago I was in the backyard enjoying the nice weather when my sixteen-month-old son came to me and said “agua,” one of the few words he knows in either Spanish or English. I thought maybe he was thirsty, so I gave him a glass of water. The poor guy was so thirsty that he drank the entire glass in one long gulp. I don’t remember having been thirsty like that in years or maybe even decades! I guess I’m not as active as him any more. That incident reminded me of returning home from school when I was a child in Mexico on a warm summer day and drinking a big glass of “agua fresca.” Seeing him drink like that brought back many memories from my own childhood.
I decided to make lemon “agua fresca” with chia, my favorite warm weather beverage. It is so refreshing and delicious! Here’s what you need to get started:
8 cups of water
1 cup of lemon juice
½ cup of sugar
3 tablespoons chia seeds
Dissolve the sugar into the water. I prefer my “agua fresca” to be less sweet, but you can add more sugar if you prefer. I also use filtered water for better flavor. Next, add the lemon juice. Fresh squeezed lemon juice is really essential here. Finally, stir in the chia seeds and let the mixture cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour. The chia seeds will begin to produce a gelatinous substance that thickens the drink and adds a subtle extra freshness.
Did you know that the chia seed—also known as Salvia hispanica—is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids? It has a long history in Mexico going back to the Aztecs, and is mentioned in some of the sixteenth-century codices (Wikipedia). Chia seeds are available in many ethnic markets.
Try out my recipe and let me know what you think!