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The rebellion of the horchatero master

The rebellion of the horchatero master

By Vincent Boix

One might wonder where is the limit before which, a food far from its natural and traditional properties, can continue to be called the same as its ancestors. Now, what this article tries to reason has nothing to do with this process that more and more people are beginning to reverse, but rather, with the information - disinformation - that is provided to the consumer.


According to mythology, in the 13th century and in the midst of the reconquest of Valencian lands, a young woman approached King Jaume I and gave him a taste of an exquisite white drink. The monarch, surprised by its taste, asked the girl: "What is això?" (What is that?). The young woman, astonished, answered firmly: “És llet de xufa” (It's tigernut milk). To which the nobleman sentenced: "Aixó no ese llet, això és or, xata" (That's not milk, this is gold, pretty girl ”)

In this peculiar and fantastic way, with that “… or, xata”, one of the most popular and refreshing drinks of the summer was baptized. Needless to say, the lush woman did not come out to receive his majesty with that simulacrum of horchata, which is bottled and for more joke and ridicule is called "master horchatero." If so, neither gold for the potion, nor pretty for the daring young woman. We would continue to drink tigernut milk.

The artisan preparation of the good traditional horchata begins the night before it is made, since the tigernuts need to be soaked for a few hours. Already in the morning the water is removed. It is added again adding a small concentration of sodium hypochlorite for adequate disinfection. In half an hour the tigernut is washed well, eliminating the chemical and impurities. It is ground in a mill, macerated, sieved, drained and sugar is added. It is cooled to a temperature of between -1 to -4 degrees Celsius and we have this horchata ready, which under normal conditions, can maintain its properties and flavor for a few days. Some horchateros masters (the real ones and not Heidi's grandfather who has signed Chufi for his television advertising) add cocoa or cinnamon or lemon or other natural additives to speculate with flavors and aromas. And is that each teacher, has his trick.

From there comes the liquid that seduced Jaume I. The one that true horchateros masters have made for centuries. Any resemblance to some tigernut milks that remain at room temperature on supermarket shelves, with expiration dates that last several months, is pure coincidence. In any case, you should ask the chemists and scientists of these bottling companies, and not the poor horchatero master on television, Heidi's once grandfather.


It is true that for many years we have been commercializing and consuming adulterated and pre-manufactured foods that lost any iota of naturalness. That no one can deny. Now, what this article tries to reason has nothing to do with this process that more and more people are beginning to reverse, but rather, with the information - disinformation - that is provided to the consumer.

One might first wonder where is the limit before which, a food far from its natural and traditional properties, can continue to be called the same as its ancestors. That is to say, is it correct that it is called horchata to dry, to a tigernut milk capable of withstanding room temperature for 5 months and that barely leaves a residue? It would be another thing if decency and ethics existed in advertising agencies, transnationals and the media, and this product was given a surname, for example, "Bottled Horchata" or "Horchata with preservatives." People could distinguish and receive truthful information.

However, unfortunately, the trend is precisely the opposite. Fool customers with misleading advertising. Not only is the artificial and industrial character of certain tiger nut milks that are stuffed with chemical products hidden so that they can hold up stoically in supermarkets, but one dares to describe its star tiger nut milk as "Master horchatero". All because it has a higher percentage of tigernuts and because they have hired Heidi's grandfather to give that rural, romantic and traditional touch to their product. And according to them - watch out for the expression - also because it has an "artisan extraction" (: o).

Unfortunately, and oddly enough, there are people who believe it. These horchat-television orgies hit many consumers. The big losers, obviously, are the real horchateros masters. The thousands of artisans who work hard every day so that this product continues to make Jaume I.

On these matters, the summer has been very prolific. Some advertising agencies, the media and large transnationals have come out of the closet. The crisis is tightening and you have to sell at any price. Apart from the so-called tigernut milk, the Pascual company had the nerve to promote an orange juice that sprouted from the tree itself. My mother, this is an insult to intelligence, good taste and the foundation that Karlos Arguiñano comments so much about.

It's rude to compare squeezed oranges to those mock bottled concoctions. But it is even more so if one takes into account that some other brand uses the poorest quality oranges, which in some cases, remain stacked for weeks at room temperature, thus losing their properties, natural flavor and some reaching putrefaction. All an informative and propagandistic aberration, which clearly hurts hundreds of thousands of small farmers, who are the only ones capable of producing oranges, which once squeezed at home, provide inimitable flavors and properties.

As you can see, anything goes in the world of advertising. Who pays a medium has a license and permission to confuse millions of people. There is no control by the state or the media itself. Repsol, Endesa and Iberdrola are the greenest companies. Danone reduces hunger in the world. Chufi manufactures artisan horchata. Coca Cola has no preservatives and is advisable during long road trips. Driving an Audi or a Mercedes is the greatest pleasure in the world. Pascual's juice is identical to that of a handful of freshly picked oranges. Telephone companies give us calls as gifts. Carrefour sells the hard for six pesetas. Media Mark tells us fools if we don't shop at their centers. And the banks, at heart, are NGOs.

Information and truthfulness has long been prostituted in the media. Transfer this fact to the news level and you will discover that sacrosanct freedom of expression that the media presumes in liberal societies. You pay, then you express yourself.

Vicent boix, apprentice to master horchatero, former citrus worker and author of the book "El parque de las hamacas" http://www.elparquedelashamacas.org


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