Growing up in Venezuela is one of those things I would never wish to change about my life. All the experiences, good and bad, are what make me who I am today. Although there were some tough times, there were also plenty of great times that fill the good memories I have of Venezuela nowadays.
I was fortunate to have a loving family who valued education above all things. I was fortunate to have parents and grandparents who made sure I could attend the best schools, private bilingual schools. Attending a bilingual private school had advantages and disadvantages. Of course, they were all advantages, but when you are 12 years old, you probably don’t think that having to take 16 subjects all year long (8 in English and 8 in Spanish) is an advantage at all. Now I that I live in the US, and people can’t tell that I am from a different country, because I don’t have an accent, make me realize all the advantages.
One other advantage I remember fondly from being in a private school is definitely the food. The school had what we call a “cantina escolar”, the school’s cafeteria. And no, the ‘cantina’ did not serve any alcohol! They sold anything and everything from arepas to empanadas, pabellón criollo, breakfast, tequeños, tequeñón, and anything else you might think of.
One year, my school hired a ‘carrito de chicha’, a little cart much like a hot dog cart that would sell chicha. This tiny cart would be downstairs and my friends and I would run down during recess to get some chicha. What is chicha? you ask? Only the most refreshing drink you’ve ever had. There is just something about the cold, creamy, sweet chicha that gave you enough energy to run all over during recess and still be awake for the next 4 class periods.
Venezuelan Chicha is a refreshing drink made with rice. Back in the day, people used to soak the rice overnight, and then let it dry and grind it, then blend it and add sugar and sell it on the street as refreshment. Nowadays, we even have commercialized chicha brands that you can buy at the store just like a carton of milk.
So now you can make your own chicha at home, and it’s very easy. The best part is that you don’t have to wait a day while you soak the rice, or use a grinder. Because let’s face it, who even owns a grinder?
What you need:
- 1 Cup White Rice
- 10 Cups Water
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- ¾ Cup Sugar
- 1 Cup Powdered Milk
- 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
- Condensed Milk (optional)
- Ground Cinnamon
- Cinnamon Sticks
1. In a large enough pot, bring the 10 cups of water to a boil.
2. Once the water is boiling, add the rice, the salt, and one cinnamon stick and continue to boil for about 30 minutes, or until the rice is quite mushy.
3. Remove the pot from the heat and set aside to cool. At this point, also remove the cinnamon stick.
4. While the rice is still a bit warm, add the sugar and vanilla extract and stir by hand.
5. Add the powdered milk little by little so it doesn’t clump up, and stir by hand.
6. Let the mixture cool down a bit longer.
7. Using a blender, liquefy the mixture. You will probably need to do this about 2 cups at a time, because the entire batch will not fit in an average size blender.
8. Put the mixture in a pitcher and in the fridge to cool down completely.
9. Once cool, you can serve it in many different ways. You can serve it with crushed ice, like a smoothie. Or you can serve it with ice cubes. But it’s always served with ice. You can sprinkle some ground cinnamon on top, and you can also add some condensed milk.