Here is a riddle for you:
What is grey with a purple fringe and moves when someone talks?
It is a man with a mustache who is drinking Chicha Morada.
When you are invited to a home for a meal or go to a restaurant that serves Creole food in Lima, it is likely that you will be offered this non-alcoholic drink. Morada means purple in Spanish and this is a purple which is almost black. Served well chilled, it is a very refreshing drink, especially in the summer.
Purple is the royal color and Chicha Morada, made from purple corn, is definitely a drink for royalty. In fact, it was an important part of ceremonial life in Inca culture.
We’re definitely not royalty, but Chicha is also a favorite drink in our home. It takes some work, but when Jessie, our house helper, cooks, she is sure to make some for our lunch. I think that it is her favorite drink, and that is why she makes it so often. Anyway, as with everything that Jessie cooks, sometimes it is excellent and other times not so good. You might say that she is brilliantly inconsistent. We never really know how it is going to turn out.
This is important, because my wife has an extremely fine-tuned palate when it comes to Chicha. She can tell in an instant if it is good or not. Generally, Jessie makes it too sweet for our taste and my wife needs to make an adjustment with some extra lime juice.
When we go to restaurants, we all pause to let my wife sample the drink and give her approval. When she gives the blessing then we all plunge in to enjoy the beverage. If she doesn’t like it, back to the kitchen it goes. Her nose is unfailing. I have never known her to be wrong. In this regard she is just like a wine snob.
Chicha Morada is made by boiling the shucked purple corn kernels along with the cobs, cinnamon, cloves, cherries, quinces, apple and the skin of a pineapple. Add sugar, lime juice to taste and pop into the refrigerator to serve later well chilled. We like it with less sugar and more lime juice so that it has a tangy flavor. Usually it is served with chopped fruit and cinnamon.
We like it fresh, but others prefer to let it sit for a few days.
Chicha is so seriously purple that if I spill some on the tablecloth or on my shirt, I will be in deep trouble. Therefore I handle this precious liquid with extreme care.
Not only is Chicha tasty, but also good for you.
So, drink up.
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