Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Watermelon & Mint Chia Tea Fresca for Food 'N Flix July Pick: "Like Water for Chocolate"
Like Water for Chocolate--both the book and the film inspired by it, hold a fond place in my foodie heart. Set in Mexico in the early 1900's, it's the story of Tita, who as the youngest daughter in her well-to-do family, is forced by tradition to spend her life unmarried and taking care of her aging and dominant mother while her heart longs for Pedro, her one true love. Pedro marries Tita's eldest sister Rosaura and a heartbroken Tita spends her days in the kitchen where she cooks dishes that contain all of her suppressed emotions and that have an often life-changing effect on those who eat them.
I chose the novel as a Cook the Books selection back in 2010 and was happy to have the movie be our July Food 'N Flix pick, selected and hosted by Elizabeth at The Law Student’s Cookbook. I love a little magical realism that sparks the imagination and in this case, certainly the appetite.
There is plenty of food inspiration in the story with dishes like Quail in Rose Petal Sauce, Cream Fritters, and Christmas Rolls. For my film-inspired dish, I decided to combine a few different ideas from the movie into a refreshing summer beverage--starting with the watermelon from a steamy and sultry summer night when the family is sleeping outdoors and Pedro and Tita sneak away for a brief tryst. It turns out that in addition to smashing hearts, mean Mama Elena is a champion watermelon smasher, expertly breaking the melon into large perfect wedges. There was a large glass jar of what looked like watermelon agua fresca on the table in the scene. It looked wonderfully refreshing and became the base of my drink. As a baby, Tita was nourished in the kitchen with teas and gruel by her beloved Nacha, the family's cook, so I wanted to include tea in my fresca. Watermelon and mint pair well together and mint leaves are what a guilty Tita recommends to Rosaura when she complains that her flatulence and bad breath are keeping Pedro away from her. (As if her personality wasn't enough!) On warm days, I drink a lot of iced teas, usually with chia seeds mixed in and since they are in the mint family and are native to Mexico and Latin America, they seemed like a good fit.
The result, my Watermelon & Mint Chia Tea Fresca is sweet, slightly tart, refreshing, and perfect for quenching the summer heat or maybe some fiery unrequited passion. ;-) And, I am certainly not judging if you want to slip some rum or tequila into the mix
Watermelon & Mint Chia Tea Fresca
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves about 6)
4 cups brewed mint or melon mint tea, brewed strongly for ice tea (Note: I used DAVIDsTEA Watermelon Mint Herbal Tea)
1/3 cup Chia Seeds
4 heaping cups cubed chilled watermelon (seedless or most seeds removed)
4 tablespoons lime juice
2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves or to taste
2 Tbsp agave nectar or to taste
2 cups ice + extra ice for serving
extra sprigs of mint, watermelon cubes and/or lime slices to garnish
Brew your tea strongly enough to retain its flavor as an iced tea (usually double the amount of tea per water is a good guide). Stir chia seeds thoroughly into slightly cooled brewed tea and chill mixture in refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
Combine watermelon, lime juice, mint, agave and ice in a blender. Puree until smooth. Pour into serving pitcher and add chilled tea/chia mixture, stirring well until thoroughly mixed.
To serve: Pour into glasses filled with ice and garnish with fresh mint and/or skewers of watermelon and lime as desired.
Notes/Results: An excellent summer sipper--so cooling with the juicy watermelon and burst of mint. You can adjust the amounts of the mint, lime and agave based on the sweetness and mint level of the tea you use. I bought a bag of DAVIDsTEA Watermelon Mint herbal tea while doing a training gig for the company in Toronto (they do mail order and there are U.S. stores in Chicago, Boston, New York and San Francisco). Fabulous people, wonderful teas. (And although I was paid for my work I wasn't paid to say that or to spend my consulting fee on tea!) This particular herbal blend smells a bit like a watermelon Jolly Rancher and has a light melon taste with the mint kicking lightly in at the end. You could also use a green tea or a plain peppermint tea and again, adjust things to get it to your taste. The blended watermelon and ice, along with the chia seeds make this slightly thick--which I like, and the chia seeds add extra fats and nutrients but you could certainly omit them if you are not a fan. Healthy and tasty, I may be drinking this all summer long.
The deadline for this round of Food 'N Flix is (today) July 29th and Elizabeth will be rounding up all of the entries on her blog soon. If you missed this round and love food, films and foodie films, join us for August when we will be viewing Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs hosted by Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla.