The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
Celebrate the upcoming holiday season with Casey Schwartz and Kit Wertz of Flower Duet and Maite Gomez-Rejon of ArtBites. Pair seasonal floral arrangements with historic cocktails from around the world. ($85 members; $100 non-members)
Saturday 12/14 from 9:00am to 12:30pm The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
Join Maite and celebrate the Huntington’s centennial through the lens of the special exhibition, Nineteen Nineteen. Participants will visit the exhibition and explore life in the U.S. following World War I and return the kitchen to prepare a group meal adapted from cookbooks published in 1919. ($85 members; $100 non-members)
image: Howard Chandler Christy (1873–1952), Americans All! Victory Liberty Loan, 1919. Lithograph, Boston: Forbes, 29 15/16 x 19 7/8 in. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens.
“This is not Mexican food,” said my Mexican-born parents anytime they got a whiff of chili. A mere plateful inspired disapproving gestures as they sensed the dish wafting the aroma of cumin in a San Antonio Mexican restaurant. Growing up on the Texas/Mexico border, life was more Mex than Tex. But a mere 150 miles north, it was a different story.
They were right—sort of. Chili is not Mexican, but its history is complicated. Chili is Texas Mexican, one of the country’s oldest regional cuisines. The term Tex-Mex first appeared in the culinary lexicon in 1972 when English-born cookbook author Diana Kennedy made a clear distinction between the food served in Mexico and everything served north of the border. By doing so she inadvertently defined a centuries old cuisine—one that’s heavy on meat and cheese, features flour tortillas over corn, and highlights cumin—a spice not commonly used in central Mexico.
An ancient medical elixir is the ancestor for a family of drinks.
Mexican horchata is the agua fresca that dreams are made of. While sweet and slightly creamy, it usually isn’t dairy-derived. Instead, it’s made by soaking white rice in water and cinnamon for several hours, straining, and adding sugar. Vaguely reminiscent of a delicate rice pudding, there’s nothing more refreshing than a cold cup of horchata on a hot summer day.
But long ago, horchata was more than just a refreshment. While the Mexican version of the drink first appeared in the 16th century, its roots date back to an ancient Roman medical elixir made from barley. In fact, the word horchata comes from the Latin hordeum (barley) and hordeata (drink made with barley). From its role as medicine in antiquity, the beverage took a circuitous route across Europe and across the Atlantic to Latin America. Along the way, horchata became a whole family of drinks made from various grains, nuts, and seeds.