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Essence of cool

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In East Los Angeles, on counters of neighborhood "taquerias" you can see the huge glass "vitroleros," beehive-shaped jars filled with "aguas frescas" in a spectrum of stunning colors. Each flavor is like a point of reference on a color wheel: the deep magenta of "jamaica" (a variety of hibiscus flower), the pale green of honeydew melon or cucumber-lime, the scarlet of just-made "sandia" (watermelon), rice-based "horchata's" milky white.

Aguas frescas have a long tradition in Mexico and Latin America, where…

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