On a daily basis or in special ceremonies, Mexicans have known how to drink, since ancient times, the liquid delicacies that cocoa can offer.
There are thousands of drinks that have been generated throughout the world. In that cosmos are those that are so sophisticated that their possible extinction goes hand in hand with the abilities of those who can perform them. The dignity of these wonders coincides with their demand, where if no one requests them, their disappearance is imminent ... and it would be a shame, because the intrinsic wisdom in each of them is prodigious. In that context are cocoa drinks, cusp of liquid delicacies originating in pre-Hispanic times.
CHOCOLATE, FROM MEXICO TO THE WORLD
One of the most prestigious cocoa drinks is chocolate, which has been multicited and analyzed for its popularity. In this regard, chef Mauricio Ávila, who wrote the book The Traditional Cuisine of Mexico City, maintains by his informants of Nahuatl origin that the word chocolate does not come from Nahuatl Xocoatl, which derives from Xoco, which many mistranslate as “bitter ”, And of atl, water, because to start the chocolate is not sour.
Ávila argues that the word comes from tsoqui, mud, and atl, water, that is to say “muddy water”, for its color and consistency reminiscent of muddy water. That drink must have been fresh and with abundant foam, with spicy flavors, very similar to others prepared with cocoa from the central Altiplano.
The cocoa consumed in chocolate must have been a true treat and a very noble and sophisticated option for the wealthy Mesoamerican classes, who perhaps drank it more daily than the less favored classes; For this reason, the Spaniards could be presented with this liquid experience that they loved, so much that they eventually modified it and took it to their courts, where it became the most aristocratic drink in Europe.
Even Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII, took her to the court of France where she had a great recognition and welcome, so that the best receptions were always paired with a sparkling chocolate. In the Spanish version the drink carries milk, sugar and almonds.
OTHER DELIGHTS DERIVED FROM COCOA
Cocoa used not only the grain, but also the jacket or shell that covers it; with it, a traditional atole called cascarilla or shell has also been prepared, which is very tasty and uncommon because to be able to do it it is necessary to toast the jacket, giving it an exquisite color and flavor. This interesting black drink was always consumed hot and without foam. It is sweetened with brown sugar and is typical of Michoacán. Other states such as Colima, Jalisco and Querétaro have their versions and consume it at breakfast or at weddings.
Hot versions are found in champurrados and chorreados that existed in pre-Hispanic times and that later adopted mestizos and Spaniards. These do not carry so much foam because heat melts your fat. The foam it has is just a hint that is lost quickly.
Fresh and cold were mostly indigenous cocoa drinks. There are dozens that can still be enjoyed such as taxcalate, chilate, pozol, pinolillo, polvillo, cocoa, pulunche, popo, plus the other types of pre-Hispanic chocolates that admitted various mixtures and temperatures. It is important to note that if a drink has cocoa, that is not why it is chocolate. Many of them have flowers, which in turn have saponins that produce foam. There are different variants depending on the ingredients added to them, and some are sweetened with sugar.
Downtown of Santa Inés Zacatelco, Tlaxcala, you can still consume, next to the church, the drink called “cocoa”, traditionally known as “canyon water”, “cacahuatole” or “cocoa drink”. There the peanuts gather to sell this ancestral drink to the parishioners. All very beautiful and clean, dressed in their local attire, one after the other, make the edge of the square shine with its presence known as the whereabouts of cocoa.
They say that this drink has an Olmec background because it came from the areas of Tabasco and established itself in the town since ancient times. There are many varieties that depend on corn. Only the noble class, the great warriors and the bosses drank it.
It consists of beans, corn, cocoa from Chiapas or Tabasco, anise and cinnamon. Once the ingredients are roasted, they are mixed and a dough similar to that of the tortillas is made, to which one more ingredient is added, the “pig trumpet” or “jicaritas”, a kind of pumpkin that, chopped, favors the foam production. Then everything was sneaking and beating in a clay container of up to 20 liters that had no fat, ice and sugar are put on it, and with a special wooden grinder, plenty of foam is removed.
Behind containers of up to 20 liters are those wonderful women, hard and hard, giving the water of the canyon to maintain its bubbling content. It is served in jícaras in a traditional way. The corn that is used is preferably blue or red, because it gives more flavor and color, being the roast and the amounts of the mixture that gives the various flavors. They are sold in twelve, fifteen or twenty pesos according to their size.
Another outstanding drink is the bu’pu or chocolate atole. It is a white atole that, at the time of serving it, thick cocoa foam is put on top of it, which is obtained from the mixture of cocoa, pataxte, roasted and ground whole wheat, sugar and cinnamon. With these ingredients and water a paste is made that is allowed to dry for use in moments of celebration; It hardens and when it is going to be used it breaks, it becomes dusty and it is bathed with cold water, beating to obtain an abundant and thick foam.
The atole of the bu’pu can be hot, as in Juchitán, and on it the fresh foam that fills the drink is placed. The foam, being so consistent, is pushed with the help of a pimp (flat stick currently sold as a "book separator"), this, of course, if you want to drink the liquid from the bottom, which is also a delight. With flowers and sugar this version and other similar ones are given a final touch.
So, these are just a few examples of the many beverage options we have for cocoa in Mexico. Whether hot, hot-cold or cold, with abundant or insignificant foam, the drinks made with this grain are sensational throughout the year or in special celebrations that remind us of their ancestral origins and their special place in the pre-Hispanic world that saw them born .