Summer Tradition: Aqua Fresca

June 7, 2012

In response to one of Mamakat’s prompts this week, I’ll be sharing a favorite summer beverage recipe. It’s an oldie, but goodie, I promise.

This will be the fourth year that we’ve hosted a college student from Mexico for a few summer months, and I’m so afraid that it will be our last. The young women who have stayed with us are graduating and moving on with their lives, pursuing careers in architecture, graphic design, physiology. Our first student we hosted, Lorena, is now married with a beautiful daughter, Maria. Time just whizzes by, and with each lovely girl we’ve been lucky enough to host, my girls have grown and learned and loved fiercely.

Lore, Daniela, Alejandra and (now) Paola all hail from Torreon, Mexico–a city ravaged by the violence so prevalent in border cities. The girls attend school, are free for a few hours, and then, like most of the town’s citizens, lock themselves inside by sunset. After sunset is when the bad things happen.

These educated, articulate, determined young women are such an inspiration, and summers with them have been golden. They can take classes, swim, run, dance late into the night with abandon. And of course, help out with the tending of the Minxes, which in itself is such a gift because these benevolent visitors have reservoirs of patience that amaze me.  The energy and enthusiasm they bring to our home for two short months a year…gah. The thought of losing that makes me weepy already.

But this is the Summer of Paola–stunning, sweet Paola–and we’re going to make the most of it.

One additional benefit these ladies have brought to my life is the inspiration to cook new things.  Although life in Torreon can be taxing, the girls take comfort in the tastes of home, and there are definite dishes that they miss when they visit.

For Lore, it was Aqua Fresca. For Dani, it was ceviche. For Ale, it was chilaquales and mango/jicama with chile and lime. I stretched my boundaries and made them all, because food is family and home and a way to connect, and believe me, every single one of these beautiful girls has carved a notch in our hearts.

I’m excited to see what Paola is going to miss, and what’s going to send me into the kitchen, duffing around, trying to reproduce. Paola is our athlete, so I’m sure there’s healthy fare in the works. She also likes things spicy–perhaps more than any of the girls–so those of you with racy tastebuds, hold onto your hats.

She’s also going to teach the Minxes yoga, which tickles me to no end. Pictures are imminent, be assured.

Our Paola arrives on Sunday, and it is supposed to be another balmy day. I’ll be making a pitcher of this for her, waiting to welcome her to her summer home.  It’s incredibly refreshing and so pretty, just like Paola.

Aqua Fresca
adapted from Michael Chiarello’s recipe
serves 4

3 cups watermelon, peeled, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups water
1 to 4 tablespoons sugar, depending on how sweet your melon is
2 limes, juiced
mint, optional

Puree the watermelon in a food processor or blender. Place a fine sieve over an empty pitcher and pour the watermelon mixture through the sieve. Discard pulp left over in sieve, pressing down to extract all juice.

Add remaining ingredients, starting with 1 tablespoon sugar and adjusting to taste. Serve over cracked ice.

~And yes, you can add vodka to this. Ahem. Not that I’ve done that or anything.~

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

May June 7, 2012 at 7:29 am

What a great way to add vibrance to your life. And the drink looks amazing.


Ginger June 7, 2012 at 7:53 am

Oh My! That sounds delicious…a really refreshing summer drinkie-poo!


Happy Thursday!


Katybeth June 7, 2012 at 7:57 am

Love everything about this drink! My mom is in town and during the cocktail hour I will be sipping this drink while she enjoys her bourbon and water–however I’m betting the whole family will enjoy it over the weekend!
You don’t have a good recipe for a Lime Raspberry Ricky do you?
What a fun summer with your house guest!



TKW June 7, 2012 at 11:24 am


I’ve never made a Lime Raspberry Ricky. Hmph. Going on the bucket list now!


Melissa June 7, 2012 at 8:01 am

Yummmmm, that sounds delicious… and I may or may not try it with Vodka myself. ;-)


Samantha Angela June 7, 2012 at 10:56 am

That’s fantastic that you are involved in that sort of programme. How did you get into that?


TKW June 7, 2012 at 11:27 am


It was just pure luck! One of those friend of a friend of a friend things; the first summer, a neighbor hooked me up and then it just sort of developed. The girls really have been such blessings.


Contemporary Troubadour June 7, 2012 at 12:43 pm

This program sounds awesome for you and the girls you’ve hosted over the years. How did you get connected with it? Can’t wait to hear the stories about yoga :)


TKW June 9, 2012 at 8:53 am


A neighbor of mine had a nanny for several years from Torreon . Word got around that there were lots of girls who were interested in coming to the Rocky Mountains during the summer months to escape. I just got lucky!


suzicate June 7, 2012 at 4:22 pm

This is an incredible thing you do! This drink sounds wonderful…wonderful if I can slip “something” in it to kick it up a notch!
here’s to another fabulous summer of learning, fun, and good eats!


Scargosun June 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm

I just recently read a bunch of aqua fresca recipes and have been dying to try them. This one looks the absolute best though. I might try it this weekend. Thanks!


TKW June 9, 2012 at 8:54 am


It’s a 93 degree day here, so there’s lots of this stuff going around!


Katrina Kenison June 7, 2012 at 7:04 pm

Looks fabulous and I am overtaken by mint, so always looking for ways to use it. What a great gift to your family these girls must be, and just as much a blessing to these lucky girls who get to come and linger in your kitchen. I’m sure there are memories on both sides.


TKW June 9, 2012 at 8:57 am


Mint is the bully of herbs, isn’t it? The first year I planted a garden, I made the mistake of planting mint in with the rest of the herbs/veg. Mint kicked them out, and fast! Now they have their own special pot, so they don’t antagonize the other foodstuffs. :)


kaye June 7, 2012 at 10:42 pm

yummy :) I’m sure Paola will enjoy it. kaye—the road goes ever ever on


Camilla June 8, 2012 at 1:01 am

I remember when you first posted this one! Yummo, you guys are so fabulous to be opening your doors yet again. Paola will have a fabulous summer with you all, for sure!


Tinne from Tantrums and Tomatoes June 8, 2012 at 4:19 am

Looks fabulous!
And I bet you can make ice-cream popsicles out of it too! Just have to keep the vodka’d once seperate from the ‘regular’ ones…


TKW June 9, 2012 at 8:57 am


I like the way you think! ;)


Phoo-d June 8, 2012 at 5:48 am

I made a gigantic batch of this for Mr. B’s birthday party this past weekend. It was a huge hit with the kids and non-alcoholic drink people alike. I thought of you so much as I was making it!


TKW June 9, 2012 at 8:58 am


Happy Birthday to Mr. B! Sure wish you were here to walk around the lake with me in the mornings…


BigLittleWolf June 8, 2012 at 10:37 am

Now you’ve made me thirsty… and more ready for summer!


Barbara June 8, 2012 at 12:59 pm

Such a wonderful experience for your girls, too. A win-win situation for all.
Love this drink, watermelon being a favorite, and yes, I’d add vodka. Of course. :)


TKW June 9, 2012 at 8:59 am


I knew I loved you.


Dawn June 8, 2012 at 7:44 pm

Perfect for summer. And your lovely guests each summer, how special is that! There just have to be other wonderful women in that town that can continue the tradition. We had an exchange student one year growing up…a great experience of us as kids. Yours are learning so much more about the world while hanging out with people from ‘somewhere else.’


TKW June 9, 2012 at 9:00 am


Plus, they get to learn words in Spanish! “Mariposa” is a particular favorite. And also, they get spoiled rotten by these sweet young things.


Paula June 9, 2012 at 3:31 pm

The drink sounds fabulous. And your summer visitors do too. What a great time for your girls!


Lyndsey @ The Tiny Skillet June 10, 2012 at 12:06 pm

How cool is that?!! I would love to do that, but we only have two bedrooms. What a great opportunity for your family and the girls. My daughter and I have been getting into authentic Mexican food lately…something that is easily found around here. I plan to make some aguas frescas this summer…I found a good source for tamarind and Jamaica flowers!! Yours looks delightful, and so refreshing, I’m sure it will put a smile on her face! (dding vodka sounds good) :)


Kat June 10, 2012 at 2:13 pm

I would love to do something like this, but will admit I’m afraid of bringing strangers into my home. Also…do I have to constantly think of activities for them to do? I’m afraid they’d be bored to death with our trips to the zoo and kiddie movie days. You make it sound so rewarding though! And who can resist that yummy drink? Can I stay with you next summer?


Heather June 18, 2012 at 7:14 pm

Oh this is right up my alley! I almost made it last week while on vacation but we were lacking in the vodka department and I was too damn lazy to go to the store. So we drank premade margaritas instead :)
If my BIL and nephew move to Colorado Springs you can bet your ass I’m looking you up when I head out to visit him so we can drink one of these together :)


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