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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Neat to Eat (or drink): Mexican Hot Chocolate

Recently, Mr. Wonderful and I headed south for a visit
with our southern neighbors in Mexico.  For the past few
years this has become an annual visit for us.  We love
the beauty of the country, the kind and friendly people 
and the food.  We were hanging out in the seaside town
of Playa del Carmen which has become a tourist hot spot
of late but still retains the charms of the fishing village it
once was.  When in Mexico, I go local ~ I go by the name
Elena Maria, my skin turns brown and I work on my
Spanish, though to be honest, most times it is more
Spanglish where I come out sounding like a mix of Salma
Hayek and Sophia Vergara when they speak English.  (I
find that Wonderful quite likes that...)

I love learning about the Mayan culture that once 
thrived in this area and who can't love a culture that
loved chocolate.  The Maya created hot chocolate over
2,000 years ago.  Chocolate was a New World discovery,
Cortes brought it back to Europe where it became a 
luxury item for royalty.  I had never had Mexican Hot
Chocolate in Mexico and I was determined to find some.
It was a wonderful surprise to find out that a one minute
walk from our apartment brought us to Ah Cacao ~ a
Chocolate Cafe.  I wish I had found this on day one of my

Dinners are quite late when we are in Mexico so 
we had a pre-dinner dessert as the sun began to
fade.  We sat out on the sidewalk to watch the 
world go by, Wonderful had the Chocolate Maya 
made with honey and hot spices and I had the
Chocolate Traditional made with cinnamon and 
vanilla.  The cute, Mexican guy at the next table
was reading Kerouac's On the Road en espanol.
It was the oldest looking copy that I had ever seen,
I asked him what he thought of the book and he 
said he was enjoying it and planned to read Henry
Miller's The Rosy Crucifixion trilogy next.

In the cafe I bought a molinillo, a tool for frothing the
foam of Mexican Hot Chocolate.  In days of old, and 
perhaps not so old, a girl was judged to be acceptable
as a mate by the amount of foam she could produce in
her hot chocolate.  The future Mother-in-Law was the
one doing the judging...  I also picked up a bar of chocolate
soap because who doesn't want to smell good enough to eat?

Up the street, the pilgrims were gathering for 
their walk to a local shrine to honor Our Lady 
of Guadalupe.  A man named Eduardo told us
about the tradition of the pilgrimage to honor
the Virgin of Guadalupe, the patron saint of 
Mexico.  He asked us about our plans during our
visit and it turns out he works at the place we 
will be staying next week ~ small world.

At this point, Wonderful headed off to the mercado
to pick up some ingredients for his dinner creations
and I went to the beach to catch the sunset.

And the following week when we were in another
city hanging out with Eduardo we found another
chocolate cafe.  My drink was the cute bear, I think
the barista made it special for me because I ordered
en espanol even though I messed it up.  I ordered a
medium but said medio which he corrected me and
said it was mediano.  Medio was half whereas mediano
was medium.  When I looked it up half was also mitad.
So, the Spanish lessons continue...

And on a snowy day like today, I can still enjoy
some Mexican Hot Chocolate at home at Avalon.
In our grocery store in the Mexican section of the
International aisle, we can get powdered mix or a
cake of chocolate and spices.  I (surprisingly) enjoy
the powdered to the cake.  I found the cake to be a
bit gritty even after I frothed away with my molinilla.

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