Eating Chocolate in Oaxaca (Mexico), A Real Treat
Beautiful art, great markets and historical monuments is what to expect when backpacking in the colonial city of Oaxaca. As one of the most traditional region to visit in Mexico, you will undoubtely enjoy your stay there. One thing caught me by surprise though. The quality of the chocolate in Oaxaca!
As most people, I enjoy eating chocolate. Anything related to chocolate will satisfy a craving. Now, what I didn’t know about Oaxaca before traveling to the region was that I’d be eating one of the best chocolates in the world. Chocolate comes from cacao beans which is grown in tropical climates. In mexico, cacao beans are cultivated in the regions of Chiapas and Tabasco. But although cacao is not grown in Oaxaca, Oaxaca is one of the first places in the world where you could buy chocolate to go with a choice of spices.
The word cacao is traced back to the Olmec’s, which was then used by the Mayans and later introduced to the Aztecs who refered to it as “xocolatl” (“bitter water”). When the Spaniards landed in Mexico to colonize the land, they began shipping chocolate to Spain which eventually led to the distribution and popularity of chocolate in Europe.
When in Oaxaca, you’ll see lots of chocolate, but not necessarily the chocolate we’re used to seeing (chocolate bars, chocolate chips or cocoa powder). What you will find is pieces of more bitter chocolate, hot chocolate, mole or tejate.
The chocolate is made using different spices such as cinnamon, ground sugar or almonds. The hot chocolate in Oaxaca is great. How they make it is still a wonder, a wonder I hope they can maintain forever! It’s thick and a little bitter than what we are used to in North America or Europe but really tasty nevertheless. I spent countless hours sipping on Oaxacan hot chocolate when visiting the region.
The next popular dish is the mole. Mole can be prepared with a variety of ingredients but chocolate mole is one type of mole. It’s a type of “sauce” you can put on rice, chicken or any mexican dish really! Don’t however expect a sweet dish. It’s prepared with lots of spices and very yummy!
Tejate is a less popular chocolate treat. It’s a cold drink made of chocolate. It can be difficult to find this outside of Mexico. I didn’t personaly try it so I don’t know if it’s good or not. It’ll remain a wonder until I go back to Oaxaca.
I hope all you chocolate lovers enjoyed this post!