Yo Quiero Guarapo!

guarapoWhen you think of Cuban food, the first thing that comes to mind is usually the Cuban Sandwich. And while I’ll never turn down combinations of pork and pickles, the thing I have been longing for after a recent trip to miami is actually a beverage- a beverage without alcohol, if you can believe it! (Although I’m sure it would be delish in a mojito). I sit in my New York apartment dreaming of fresh Guarapo, understanding that the only thing tropical about my neighborhood is the Puerto Rican flag attached to a flagpole across the street.

Guarapo is pressed sugarcane juice, and the only way you should consume it is fresh. Guarapo is actually the liquid from which evaporated cane juice is derived. But over ice with a spritz of lime, accompanied by a tamal with hot sauce and I’m in heaven. It’s surprisingly not too sweet. It has a flavor reminiscent of watermelon juice, and is delightfully refreshing in the hot Miami sun. The Cuban ex-pat in the small bodega where I had my first taste pushed the giant canes into an industrial juicer that shot the spent stalks out the window and into a bin. It was so simple, and so delicious.

After my initial taste of this delectable drink, I tried to find it in New York. No luck. I understand it’s not exactly local, so I suppose wanting it fresh in New York might contradict my entire food philosophy, so I will sit patiently and wait for my trip to Miami in a couple weeks, followed by a trip to Havana. I promise to drink as much guarapo in Cuba as possible, take lots of photos, and get back to you about my food adventures in a land not-so-far-away.

I feel I must confess though, I longed for it so much that I tried the canned stuff. That’s right, I caved and bought a can of Goya Guarapo that I came across at Food Bazaar. It didn’t do guarapo any justice so please try the real deal next time you’re in Miami, (or India, Brazil, Thailand or other tropical places where sugarcane grows) unless you are interested in something similar to an overly sweet simple syrup of refined sugar, tap water and preservatives. No, thank you.

I did come across real sugar cane at Food Bazaar though — perhaps a Vitamix could handle it.