The famous Oaxacan hot chocolate is an infallible beverage in most altars, to celebrate the festivity of the dead and faithful departed. Next to aromatic cempasúchil flowers, tamales, and the favorite stew of the deceased is served in a bowl, jar, or jícara.

On the eve or during the 1st and 2nd of November, relatives, friends, and neighbors with guelaguetza (provisions) visit the home of the deceased, and the hosts respond with a hot chocolate or atole champurrado, prepared and served in a jicara. This is an indispensable utensil of shape and size that can go from small and round for an individual portion, which molds to the hand, to long and thin, which are used to stir and serve the foam.

The cocoa drink in Oaxaca is present not only in the ofrenda ("offering") but also on the day of saying goodbye to a loved one, in subsequent funeral rituals, and paradoxically, in moments of joy such as weddings and baptisms. In the mosaic of the eight regions of the state, it is not uncommon for there to be a different preparation per locality and for each moment. On the one hand, it is offered at funerals, dissolved in water and accompanied with bread, while in other places, at patron saint festivities, before the main course.

For example, chocolate atole, a drink made of corn, cocoa, cinnamon, and sugar that predominates in the Valles Centrales region, can be enjoyed daily or at festivals; however, the preparation varies depending on the town where it is consumed. Also, unlike other parts of Mexico, here not all cocoa drinks are prepared with milk, nor are they all served hot.

Chocolate atole or atole de espuma is a warm drink to which cold cocoa foam is added; before drinking it, the diner is given an "alcahuate" or wooden stick that serves as a spoon or whisk. A similar drink with a spicy touch is found in some parts of the Sierra Norte region at lunchtime.

In Oaxaca, there are about 18 beverages based on cocoa

Chocolate and champurrado (Oaxaca de Juárez and surrounding area), chocolate atole (Tlacolula, Zaachila, Zimatlán and other municipalities of Valles Centrales), siaab gez (Teotitlán del Valle), popo (San Felipe Usila), chaw popox (San Mateo del Mar), pozontle (San Bartolomé Zoogocho and Villa Hidalgo Yalálag), kuxatsy (San Juan Juquila Mixes), pinol (Santa Catarina Ixtepeji), chilate (Santiago Pinotepa Nacional).

Plus bupu (Juchitán de Zaragoza), tejate (San Andrés Huayapan), wïnxatsy (Santa María Tlahuitoltepec), chone (San Bartolo Coyotepec and Santa María Atzompa, which are different) and tejate con pulque (San Lucas Quiavini). There are family secrets to beat the chocolate until the foam thickens and remains for a long time without affecting the flavor or aroma.

"I learned to prepare it since I was a little girl, with my grandmother, she taught my mother and aunts, so it is a recipe from generations ago. In my town, we don't have the cocoa plant, so when they came to sell the seeds, they were precious. The preparation of the grinding takes place a month before the Day of the Dead," said Thalia Barrios García, a native of San Mateo Yucutindoo, a municipality in the Sierra Sur.

According to the family recipe, the roasting and grinding of the cocoa beans in a metate should be done near the heat of the stove, to facilitate this work, then add the cinnamon, and then form figures like "little balls" or "faces".

The young traditional cook and founder of the restaurant "Levadura de Olla", located in the historic center of Oaxaca, prepares the drink in a pitcher of warm water, only then puts the chocolate, waits for the first boil to "break" to start beating with a rustic grinder, a single ring, until the foam rises. Thalia recognizes the ideal temperature of the water or milk, this is basic so that the bubbles are not lost and remain in the cup, without losing their savoriness.

"You have to hold its handle between your hands and turn it by rubbing one palm against the other. I start to whisk it after the first boil, then, the bubbles become denser, firmer. Give it gently up and down, without taking it out of the preparation. But only practice will make it possible to obtain foamy chocolate", she concluded.

Source: Oro Radio