Tomando: Emoliente

The word tomando in Spanish literally translates to “taking.” However, here in Peru we use this word for “drinking.”  You “take” juices, coffee, sodas, alcoholic beverages, etc. – and I must say that one of my favorite things about Peru are the drinks.  Since sharing is caring, I wanted to do a series on culturally essential Peruvian drinks. I’ll be sure to link or post recipes when possible so you can enjoy the Peruvian goodies at home in the U.S. Enjoy!

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Fellow PCVs and I drinking emoliente for the first time in Ancash. This emolientro sold his in plastic baggies. 

Lets just get it on out there folks – I love me some emoliente. The first time I got a taste of this herbal goodness, it was during our field based training in a part of Peru called Ancash and since then, my life will never be the same without it.

So what is this miracle drink? Well, emoliente is a traditional Peruvian hot drink. Having roots in the Colonial era, it is believed to have come to Peru by way of Europe. The basic emoliente recipe is also still supposed to be very much the same as it was during colonial times. By the first half of the 20th century, the emoliente street cart business began to boom and fun fact – many of the early emolienteros (street vendors of emoliente) were a part of the growing Japanese immigrant community in Lima. I should also mention that most emolienteros usually set up their carts in the early morning or in the evening.

And what’s in it? Well I’ll tell you! Emoliente is a barley based drink said to have medicinal purposes. Now, depending on your region or your specific emolientero, ingredients can vary. However, it is common to have flax seeds, horse tail, cats claw, or dried plantain leaf. And as an example of how emolientes can vary, the emolientero I go to also puts aloe vera goo in his, making it thicker than other emolientes I’ve tried. Finally, emoliente comes is all types of ways – maybe your emolientero sells it in little plastic baggies or maybe he sells it in a glass cup!

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The Emolientero of Bagua in action.

Why do I love them so much, you ask? Welp, when you’re a PCV its really hard to avoid having gastrointestinal issues and I’ve found whenever that happens, a trip to the emolientero is always a good choice. It really settles the stomach like no other. Even if your stomach isn’t trying to murder you from the inside out, its still very soothing to sit out on the street on a nice cool night drinking emoliente. Ahhh, nothing more tranquila!

So I know its Winter back in the states right now and after reading this you’re probably going to want to get your life right (and warm) with an emoliente but have no fear, the recipe is here! If any of my readers make it, drop a comment and let me know how it turns out!

If you’re thirsty for more, feel free to check out more Peruvian drinks in Tomando here.


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