NPR listener Amanda Sauermann has never had horchata, but Vampire Weekend's song of the same name kept her warm during a rough winter.
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All winter long, we've brought you songs that evoke the season. Yeah, we know it's March, but since winter doesn't officially end for another few weeks, we still have time to bring you a musical memory of a cold night from one of our listeners, Amanda Sauermann from Gracey, Ky. Her winter song is "Horchata" by Vampire Weekend.
"Prior to living in Kentucky, I lived in Burlington, Vt.," Sauermann says. "I'm very familiar with rough winters. I remember walking to work and having to wear a balaclava. The wind would whip so hard, and it would cause my eyes to water and, eventually, freeze shut. When I would get to work and my eyes would thaw, all my mascara would be running down my face, so all that you could see of me were eyes that look like Alice Cooper. But I was indeed wearing a balaclava, so I looked pretty psychotic. So that line ["In December drinking horchata / I'd look psychotic in a balaclava"] captured me right away.
"Last winter in Kentucky was pretty cold, and we had moved into a historic home. Old homes are typically cold anyway and one night it got to be minus-10. Our heater wasn't heating all that well — we had geothermal and we didn't realize there was something wrong with it, we just thought this was 'normal' to explain how cold the house was. We had adopted a border collie and we were in the process of house-training him, and we were finding icy puddles of puppy pee on the floor. Instead of cleaning puppy pee with paper towels, we were using an ice scraper, just to give you an idea how cold the house was. As it got colder and colder, I went to the kitchen and turned on the oven and hoped that that would heat my very cold house.
"I was baking bread, and it wasn't warming up the kitchen as much, so I thought I would turn on the self-clean feature on my range. And this whole time, I was listening to the radio and somehow the song 'Horchata' came on, and just between the beat, the mention of the balaclava — it just captured me and transcended me out of the cold and into the Caribbean. I downloaded the song instantly, and I spent at least three hours listening to that song.
Sauermann says she's never had horchata, the typically milky rice drink with lots of spices mixed in.
"I always see it in the grocery store, and I was thinking of getting some. And I thought, living in Kentucky, that it would taste OK with a little dash of single-barrel bourbon," Sauermann says, laughing. "That would definitely warm me up. But that evening, just baking and dancing to that song kind of ushered in this era of what we call the Amanda Sauermann Kitchen Dance Party."