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la fallas
... and other Valencian treats

 Magazine Feature Features Archive  
July 2008 Email this to a friend
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A Paella for Ya
But you haven't eaten Valencian until you've savored orxata with farts
By Frank Laterreur

Valencia possesses a unique cuisine, that includes a healthy and delicious milky drink, orxata (that's the Valencian spelling) made from chufa nuts. (This is unlike the drink of a similar name found in Mexico and the Caribbean, which is made from rice.) Orxata from chufa nuts can only be found in Valencia. Research suggests Valencian orxata is helpful in reducing diabetes and a host of other ailments. Orxata is usually taken with fartones, or farts in Valencian, long, dark pastries. In summer, a frozen variety of orxata, granizada, is especially delicious. Though orxata is available cheaply in every grocery, it is most enjoyable at the traditional orxaterias, such as the Santa Catalina with its decorative tile mosaics. This cafe and several others line the Santa Catalina plaza, just off the central La Reina square, and across from La Claca, an artists' hangout, and where Cervantes published his Don Quixote.

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If one avoids the tourist haunts, it's possible to sample really authentic local dishes quite cheaply -- from the Valencian paella to bravas, the spicy potatoes.

Two really fine restaurants, patronized almost entirely by locals, are Padys in El Carmen (the gay district) and Utileana, hidden in a back street behind the Plaza Rodrigo Botet, with its uniquely fierce ducks adorning a fountain. Lunches or suppers in either of these cost less than 10 euros total, including wine.

Remember the rhythm of all Spain is different from the rest of Europe -- almuerzo (lunch) is served during the siesta period, between about 2 and 4:30 p.m. La cena (dinner), the main meal, is after 9 p.m., and as late as midnight, with children included in the large family groups one sees at the open restaurants -- some playing soccer nearby well after midnight.

see the next sections of our coverage of Valencia...
-- Not Always a Gay Time
-- Revel Without a Cause
-- Beyond Quiet Matrimony
and the main article... -- Discovering Valencia

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