The Ultimate Colonial Drink: A Recipe

The other day night we watched Chocolat starring Juliet Binoche.

I was enchanted by it the first time I saw it six years ago. I was a little embarrassed about my enthusiasm though because I thought that the movie was merely a conventional sweet romance comedy and that was not usually my type. I said to myself, it was probably because of Johnny Depp (who in fact does not play such a big role).

The next time I watched it—last night—I was enchanted all over again and fell in love with it for what it was. I did not know why I had loved it so much the first time around. This time I knew why. Aside from the obvious reasons like great acting and direction, I really liked the strong subtext of feminism (the kind that leads to humanitarianism) embedded in the story. It’s a story with a happy ending that starts with a unique woman saving women unhappy in their marriages. Yet, it is a very sweet fantastic story. It is inspiring and satisfying—just like the hot chocolate and chocolates that she makes. It is actually quite an amazing movie, which leaves me wondering what the book this film was based on is like.

The Food:

The first time I saw the film, I started to put a pinch of hot chili pepper in my sweet-tasting shakes and baked goods because the secret to Vianne’s hot chocolate was the pinch of child pepper.

Putting a tiny bit of salt in was already something I did as I had read that the little touch of salt enhances the overall flavor of sweet things by emphasizing the sweetness with a frame around it—keeping the sweetness in check yet flavorful. I found that the chili pepper gave it a little kick if done exactly right and has since become regular practice.

Last night as I paid closer attention to the hot chocolate drink in the movie, I noticed that there were many special things about the drink and it was not simply hot chocolate. She puts in chili pepper, but she also adds a dollop of whipped cream when she serves. What exactly is that drink and how can I make it?

As I sat on the couch and talked out loud these words, Misha answered me: “That’s called Xocolatl and it’s an old Mayan drink. I don’t think it has any cream or sugar in it.” “Really?” I said. “My mom made it for me once when I was a kid and I thought that it tasted disgusting.” So we did a quick websearch to find a recipe and found that, perhaps, the original recipe was not going to be so good tasting after all. So, inspired by the idea of xocolatl, Misha embarked on making what we might call “the ultimate colonial drink” as almost all the main ingredients are a result of European colonialism.

This is what we used for two mugs of spicy yummy xocolatl (measurements are approximate):

Cocoa powder-about the same amount as the sweetener

Brown sugar (that happens to be what we had)-about the same amount as the cocoa powder

Cayenne powder-to taste

Cinnamon-to taste

Full-fat Goat Milk (again, what we happened to have)-2 mugs full

1. Make a chocolate paste with the cocoa powder and brown sugar and water.

2. Pour in the milk and heat the mixture on medium heat.

3. Pour in the cayenne and cinnamon. Be generous, but also taste it as you go for the perfect mix.

4. Once the milk is heated up, voila! You’ve got it.

My experience with this magical drink was that it was warm, spicy, and sweet. It was nothing like hot cholocate. It was really like a chocolate drink. Delicious!! Thank you, Misha! And I hope that this becomes a staple in our diet….


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