The Little Mexican Cooking School: Chocolate Made with Muscle

July19

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One of the most fascinating things that we learned at The Little Mexican Cooking School in Puerto Moreles was how essential chocolate was and is to Mexican history and culture.  In the gorgeous setting where the classes were conducted, we could not have felt further away from picking up a chocolate bar at the till of a convenience store.  Rain had fallen that morning and the garden around us was rich with aromas and sounds.  This was our setting while we learned about chocolate under the tutelage of Chef Christrobal.

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The cacao tree flourishes in the south east of Mexico.  For thousands of years the Olmecas and then the Mayans have collected the little seeds from the ripe cacao pod.  The seeds were then fermented, sun-dried and then mixed into a drink that they called bitter-water.  Sometimes they would sweeten and flavour it with vanilla, honey or chili.

When the Aztecs ruled the empire, the cacao seeds were used as currency becoming more valuable than gold itself.  Only the richest of the rich could actually consume the food-they were literally “eating and peeing” their money away.  After the Spaniards arrived on Mexican soil and then returned to Europe, chocolate which is closer to the treat that we know today, was created.  We were reminded that chocolate along with the vanilla bean were the two greatest presents from Mexico to the world.

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Chef Christrobal showed us how to roast the cacao seeds on a flat grill called a “comal”.  He constantly moved the seeds around until we started to notice a chocolate aroma.

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Next, he demonstrated how to peel the roasted seed and then place them over a “metate”.  With muscle, he started to mash the seeds gradually adding sugar and then eventually the roasted cinnamon and vanilla.

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The result of the process and all of Chef Christobal’s efforts:

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The procedure was fascinating, the result delicious and Chef Christobal was not too hard on the eyes.  Artesanal chocolate making is one of the many reasons to check out The Little Mexican Cooking School.

Kath’s quote: “The Spanish ladies of the New World are madly addicted to chocolate, to such a point that, not content to drink it several times each day, they even have it served to them in church.”-Jean-Antheleme Brillat-Savarin

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Love-that is all.


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