I am a child of Colombian and Ecuadorian immigrants who - for one reason or another - have exceptionally bad memory. My father’s memory, though, has always been significantly bad. But one day--when I was suggesting him to drink oatstraw tea regularly as part of his morning routine -- he finally came with stories. He spoke of the oats in the colada that his abuela gave him when he came home from school. He spoke of how abuelita gave aguitas to his mother when she struggled with her chronic pains. He spoke of the special variation-- colada morada -- which she made in celebration of Dia de los difuntos.
My father’s example reminds me of the ways in which the digestive system --as an intelligent site of over 100 million neurons--is the body's own second brain. As such, it can hold memories and stories in ways the head brain cannot. These stories taught me of Luz, a woman who spoke Kichwa and sold baskets from outside of Riobamba in the market of Ecuador’s main the port city, Guayaquil. These stories taught me of Luz who was both an abuelita to my father and a mother to my grandmother Margarita, a strong resilient woman who had grown up as a orphaned servant starting at the age of 10. While this may not be the exact recipe that Luz used, it was a recipe I co-created with my father using the memory of his taste buds and some of my favorite herb allies.
While in other latin american countries colada may be considered a soda or an alcoholic drink, colada- in Ecuador- is a thick sweet drink that is traditionally based out of narajilla, a subtropical fruit common in Ecuador, Panama, and Colombia (where it’s called lulo). Generally, this is not a drink that is sold publicly but is rather made at home, and it is popularly considered highly nutritive. In fact, when there was no milk, my father remembers his mother putting colada in his youngest brother’s baby bottle. Because the drink is thick, she had to cut open to widen the bottle’s nipple. While often this drink is traditionally served in the afternoon, this drink makes for a great way to start your day with a boost of energy and sweetness. It’s also a yummy way to sneak in some oats to a child's fruity drink!
4 cups of water
½ cup of oatmeal
2-3 cinnamon sticks
1 tbs of maca
¼ - ⅓ cup of brown sugar or pandela
7 oz frozen naranjilla pulp.
1 tbs calendula
Place oats in a bowl with 1 cup of lukewarm water.
Place the remaining 3 cups of water in a pot over medium-high. Add cinnamon sticks and half of the naranjilla pulp. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. After 30 minutes, turn off the heat and place calendula in the mixture-- in memory of Luz. Let cool for 20 minutes, and strain.
Place remaining naranjilla, 1 cup of strained mixture, and oats into a blender. You may also add maca into this mixture as well for an extra boost in energy.
Take this blended mixture and place it back in the pot with the remaining mixture over the stove. Heat for 5-10 minutes over medium heat.
Garnish with oats and/or a pinch of maca on top. Can be served both warm or cold, though I prefer it fresh off the stove!