The cultivation of tigernuts in mankind’s history goes back to very ancient times. According to Serrallac (1927) tubers have been found in sarcophagus and Egyptian tombs of predynastic era. It was an appreciated food as we can read in this passage of Theofastus works: “…in the sandy soil not far from the river’s bed, grows the named Malniathalle, round of shape, without stone or peel. The inhabitants collect the tubers and boil them which makes that they become very sweet; they enjoy them afterwards as dessert.”


References to the tigernut (Chufa) can be found in very ancient Persian and Arab books, which call it respectively Hian-fu-tze and Sha-ts-an and advise to drink its juice as an appetite stimulant, a tranquilizer or for general well-being (Dagendorff, 1898).


The cultivation of the Chufa has expanded from Egypt to the north of Africa and has arrived to the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily together with the Middle-Ages Islamic waves. No doubt that the reasons for its implantation here were, on the one hand, the prohibition to consume wine in the Muslim region, which probably boosted the expansion of non-alcoholic and refreshing drinks and, on the other hand, the acknowledgement of its medicinal uses. As a matter of fact, already in the XVI century the doctor of Charles 1st, Andrés Laguna, attributed the tubers of Chufa excellent properties to cure inflammations in the breathing organs as well as solving certain stomach problems. We shall note that the Valencian popular tradition had since way long considered the Horchata of Chufa as an efficient remedy against diarrheal problems.


But let us go back to the Middle-Ages with the Islamic culture having expanded the cultivation of the Chufa in the present Mediterranean areas of the Valencian Communidad (=shire). When investigating this period we find written documents which mention that a refreshing drink called llet de xufes 1 (= tigernut milk) was widely consumed already in the XIII century. This drink was presumably the forerunner of the present Horchata or orxata2 as it is called in Valencian.

The writer Cavanilles (1795) describes extensively the cultivation of the Chufa and indicates that 180 anegadas (approximately 15 ha) were used from Alboraya to Almàssera.

[1] This is a Valencian word which means Chufas or tigernuts. It is pronounced /tshouface/.

[2] Valencian word which means Orchata or tigernut milk. It is pronounced /ortshaataa/.

.Entrada de Jaime I a Valencia / Entry of Jaime I to Valencia

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