When I studied abroad in Cuernavaca, Mexico during high school I encountered many new things. It was the first time I had ever been away from home for more than a week, and the first time I had ever spent any time in a foreign country without my family. The experience shaped my love of travel, and, of course, food. Growing up in Minnesota, it was hard to find really authentic Mexican food (although, El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul is pretty fantastic), and I hadn’t been exposed to much of it before I left for Cuernavaca. Apart from the amazing tacos and mole that my host mother made, one of the things I remember the most from that trip was when I tried aguas frescas for the first time. Horchata remains my favorite, but the other aguas, made from cantaloupe, pineapple, and of course, watermelon, are always the perfect accompaniment to spicy guacamole and burritos. I have seen multiple recipes and they always looked pretty simple, but I hadn’t ever tried making them until last week found me with an excess of basil and watermelon. Simple as can be, and they went perfectly with the fried fish tacos I made that night.
Watermelon-Basil Agua Fresca (adapted from Imbibe)
4 cups seedless watermelon, cut into 2-inch cubes
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 cup water
Juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon sugar
Blend watermelon, basil and water on high for 1 minute, or until watermelon is crushed. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pitcher, then stir in lime juice and sugar. Serve iced.