1

1

 

2

5

 

0

8

 

F

O

O

D

 

1

1

 

2

5

 

0

8

 

F

O

O

D

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 

   
       
 

Chocolate Decadence

   
 

South-of-the-Border style...

   

 

  

 

When Spanish Conquistadors set foot on Mexican soil in the 16th century, they discovered a land whose Aztec rulers partook in bloody rituals to the gods, built pyramids that reached to the heavens, and prepared a brew so ambrosial that it would soon spread across the globe to the European court and beyond.  That bitter and delicious brew was chocolate (from cacahuatl).  So revered was chocolate in Aztec society that it is said that Montezuma drank the heavenly concoction from goblets of gold. 

Hot chocolate is a drink that has evolved.  The Aztecs served their sacred chocolate drink cold and frothy with chilli, cornmeal, and spices.  The Spanish in Europe replaced all that with sugar and milk and drank their chocolate hot.  In Mexican cuisine today, there are several variations on the hot chocolate theme.  Champurrado is a hot drink with a base of masa flour and piloncillo (a Mexican unrefined sugar) that is flavored with anise.  Mexican hot chocolate is a heady brew made by first melting bitter or unsweetened chocolate, adding milk, sugar and cinnamon, and then blending in eggs and vanilla that have already been beaten together.

And then there is that most ingenious use of chocolate in food - the old standard - the mole poblano sauce.  Mole poblano is said to have been created in the 17th century by nuns in honor of a visiting Spanish bishop, but other theories say that it is in fact an ancient Aztec recipe.  In any case, it is a divine invention.  The chocolate adds depth and texture without sweetness, and the sauce is perfect with chicken or duck.  The chocolate base in mole poblano is flavored with coriander, chilli peppers, onion, oregano, cumin, sesame seeds . . . a list that can stretch to 30 or so ingredients.  If Rosa Mexicano in New York City has any thorns it is to be found in the perfectly textured sting of their pungent mole poblano.

The taxonomist Linnaeus waxed lyrical when naming the cacao tree: theobroma cacao (lit. food of the gods).  Science has discovered that chocolate contains a chemical called phenylethylamine which not only plays a role in lifting one's mood, but is perhaps associated with love and passion - and so, the rumored properties of chocolate as an aphrodisiac, the food not only of the gods, but of lovers. 

Chocolate is not only the solace of winter but its delight - and heading South this year can be as simple as indulging in centuries-old decadence right here in NYC.  

 

Dine: Rosa Mexicano, NYC
Drink: Best Hot Chocolate in NYC
Watch: Like Water for Chocolate

 

Tags:  food  mexico    

 

Share:    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       
 

 
       
     

Subscribe About Us Editorial Policy Privacy Policy Contact Us Unsubscribe  

Press Archives Search  

 

 

2009 eCognoscente