Join Culinary Backstreets

Sign up with email

or

Already a member? Log in.

Log in to Culinary Backstreets

Trouble logging in?

Not a member? Sign up!

Leche Merengada barcelona

For some inexplicable reason, leche merengada, or meringue milk, a traditional Spanish summer drink, has fallen out of favor over the past few decades – industrial ice creams and sodas, with their multicolored flavors, bubbles and fantasy frozen shapes, have seduced local palates, making this monochrome drink pale in comparison.

Well, we say that it’s time to shine the spotlight back on the démodé but delicious and nutritious leche merengada and to revive a drink that was considered opulent in numerous Spanish cities back in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and documented in recipe books from as early as the 18th century.

As it so often happens with traditional drinks or dishes, we – locals included – skip over leche merengada when perusing the menu, usually because we don’t actually know what it is. And that’s a shame, because the drink is wonderful choice for anyone with a sweet tooth who finds the taste of horchata, or orxata, to be too earthy or weird, or is just not used to the tiger-nut flavor – the combination of milk, lemon and cinnamon appeals to a broader range of palates. It’s also a good option for someone who wants something more liquid and refreshing than an ice cream and still more creamy and fulfilling than just an ice-cold drink.

The traditional recipe for leche merengada calls for milk to be boiled with some lemon peels, a stick of cinnamon and sugar, strained and then put in the freezer. Next, egg whites are whisked until stiff peaks form. The meringue is then folded into the half-frozen milk, and the final product is topped with powdered cinnamon and sometimes a wafer and a straw.

This recipe is still often used by home cooks, although they can customize it in a number of ways: either by using almond milk in place of cow’s milk or aromatizing the milk with different flavors, like orange or coffee.

Most places in Barcelona, however, prefer to serve a simplified version of leche merengada, without the meringue, leaving just the very cold cooked milk aromatized with lemon skin and cinnamon. This is what you’ll commonly find at traditional orxaterias, cafeterias and local ice cream parlors. Yet even without the egg whites, drinking meringue milk is still an excellent way to replenish your energy stores on a hot summer day.

The drink is wonderful choice for anyone with a sweet tooth who finds the taste of horchata to be too earthy.

Come summer, you’ll often see locals enjoying leche merengada (and horchata) together with fartó, a traditional sweet pastry from Valencia – in our opinion, it improves the experience. Long, thin, soft and light, the pastry should be dipped in the drink, where it absorbs the meringue milk like a sponge. With each bite, it fills the mouth with a wonderful cooling combination of delicate flavors and various textures, which range from solid to foamy to liquid.

Leche merengada is on the menu at most orxaterias-torroneries, where you may also find it as an ice cream/gelato flavor (strangely enough, egg whites are added to meringue milk gelato, even if they’re not in the drink itself). Some of our favorite spots for this cooling drink are the mega-famous Sirvent Parlament, the old Sirvent 1926, and the fancy Sirvent Barcelona – all with different owners, and all in Sant Antoni neighborhood. We’re also partial to Planelles Donat in the Gòtic neighborhood, La Campana in Born, Orxateria La Valenciana in L’Eixample, and Tio Che in Poble Nou. If you’d prefer something more solid, the leche merengada gelato is particularly good at Sirvent Parlament and Planelles Donat – a snowy-like scope is perfectly complemented by a second ball of lemon, mango or even chocolate gelato.

These others may be lesser known, but still play important roles in neighborhood life: Orxateria Verdú in L’Eixample, Gelateria Astúries in Gràcia, and Orxateria Sant Roc in Sants.

This article was originally published on July 26, 2018.

  • Leche MerengadaJuly 26, 2018 Leche Merengada (0)
    For some inexplicable reason, leche merengada, or meringue milk, a traditional Spanish […] Posted in Barcelona
  • Chocolate MacondoOctober 28, 2020 Chocolate Macondo (0)
    Initially, it was books that led Fernando Rodriguez Delgado to his interest in cacao. […] Posted in Mexico City
  • PastieraApril 16, 2019 Pastiera (0)
    Like the Proustian madeleine, sweets can stir up all kinds of feelings in the minds of […] Posted in Naples

Related stories

Leche Merengada barcelona
July 26, 2018

Leche Merengada: Milky Magic

Barcelona | By Paula Mourenza
By Paula Mourenza
BarcelonaFor some inexplicable reason, leche merengada, or meringue milk, a traditional Spanish summer drink, has fallen out of favor over the past few decades – industrial ice creams and sodas, with their multicolored flavors, bubbles and fantasy frozen shapes, have seduced local palates, making this monochrome drink pale in comparison. Well, we say that it’s…
cacao mexico drink
October 28, 2020

Chocolate Macondo: Cacao Whisperers

Mexico City | By Susannah Rigg
By Susannah Rigg
Mexico CityInitially, it was books that led Fernando Rodriguez Delgado to his interest in cacao. Today Rodriguez runs Chocolate Macondo, a café that specializes in ancient preparations of cacao, but prior to that he was a bookseller, fanatical about reading and fascinated by the history of Mexico. The day that he came across the Florentine Codex,…
April 16, 2019

Pastiera: The Neapolitan Easter Legend

Naples | By Amedeo Colella
By Amedeo Colella
NaplesLike the Proustian madeleine, sweets can stir up all kinds of feelings in the minds of those who eat them. In Naples, struffoli (small, round doughnuts glazed with honey) and cassata (sponge cake with ricotta and candied fruit) speak of Christmas, while chiacchiere (sugar-dusted fritters) and sanguinaccio (literally “blood pudding,” but actually made of chocolate)…
Select your currency
USD United States (US) dollar
EUR Euro