Thursday, January 01, 2009
A Chocolatey New Year!
Dr. Jose Rizal, whose martyrdom we Filipinos celebrate every December 30, humorously depicted in his classic novel Noli Me Tangere the way some of the priests of his time would play favorites. In Chapter 11, this was shown by the way the cura (the parish priest)would serve chocolate drink to his guests. Here's an excerpt:
"Are you going over to the convento to visit the sanctimonious rascal there, the little curate? Yes! Well, if he offers you chocolate which I doubt—but if he offers it remember this: if he calls to the servant and says, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, eh!’ then stay without fear; but if he calls out, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, ah!’ then take your hat and leave on a run."
"What!" the startled visitor would ask, "does he poison people? Carambas!"
"No, man, not at all!"
"‘Chocolate, eh!’ means thick and rich, while ‘chocolate, ah!’ means watered and thin."
As the excerpt explains, "Chocolate, eh" is actually a code for chocolate espresso (rich and thick just like your espresso coffee) and "Cholate, ah" is a code for chocolate aguado (this can be likened to your cafe americano -- espresso diluted in hot water). Of course, "Chocolate eh" is specially served to those who are well liked by the cura (e.g. those with high stature), while "chocolate ah" is served to those considered unimportant.
It is a tradition among some Tagalog provinces in the Philippines to serve hot chocolate on New Year's Eve. A hot, thick and rich chocolate is a superb pair for sticky rice, bitso-bitso (fried rice batter -- close to churros) or any rice product usually served in Tagalog homes during New Year's eve.
In celebration of Rizal's day, and in joyful celebration of the New Year, I woke up early this morning to prepare "Chocolate eh" sans the political agenda. I just wanted to enjoy a nice cholatey New Year's breakfast.
These are cocoa balls from Legaspi City made from pure ground cocoa beans blended with sugar. Since these are local produce, you would probably not find this kind of cocoa preparation in most supermarkets. What you would find in most supermarkets are "cocoa tablets". Here,I used 2 cups of water and 2 cups of fresh milk for the 12 pcs. of cocoa balls to yield a darker chocolate.
The traditional way of preparing chocolate the Filipino way is to simmer it in a slender pot while slowly beating it with a tool called batirol(some kind of a wooden beater). I didn't have those traditional gadgets so I improvised a bit -- aluminum pot and aluminum beater. Preparing this needs some patience though because I had to slowly beat the liquid ingredients until the large cocoa balls totally disintegrate and the liquid is reduced to half its volume.
The 30 - 45 minutes of constant and slow beating yielded a hot, thick and rich chocolate -- ready for a nice New Year Breakfast. Happy New Year to all from the Jesuit Gourmet!