How to Eat Mexican Chocolate and Fear the Swiss

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About: Tim Anderson is the author of the "Heirloom Technology" column in Make Magazine. He is co-founder of www.zcorp.com, manufacturers of "3D Printer" output devices. His detailed drawings of traditional Pacific...

This stuff is really good. Ibarra brand "sweet chocolate" containing "cacao nibs" is intended for making hot cocoa, but I've never tried it that way. I just smack it on something solid to break it into pie shaped wedges and eat it. If you prefer to drink it, here's how to do that.

Nestle, a Swiss company, makes a competing product called "Abuelita" that's not nearly as good. There are good reasons why Mexicans make such better chocolate than the Swiss.
Cacao, the tree that produces chocolate, doesn't grow in Switzerland. It grows here in the New World, where it was cultivated to perfection by eons of careful Central and South Americans. Like Corn, Potatoes, and almost everything else we now eat, it was created here and was unknown in the Old World.
Theobromine, a psychoactive component of chocolate, is a latinization of the Aztec word for chocolate, "food of the gods". Chocolate was the sacrament of their religion.

By contrast the Swiss cultivate and worship grass. Do not step on a Swiss person's lawn unless you are a cow. That's not what it's for. As a child in Bern Switzerland I once stepped on some. I heard an unearthly scream as a woman in an embroidered costume came charging at me with some sort of club in her hand.
I'm not sure if it was a rolling pin, it's been a long time and I was totally panicked. I've read since that rolling pins are rarely used as weapons, so it was probably something else, a trivet or maybe a rosette iron.
This was before Swiss women were given the right to vote so it wouldn't have been a voting sword. They vote by holding swords aloft, a medeival custom.

My babysitter was also panicked and fled with me. She was an American woman named Gay, who was unable to live in English speaking countries. The word "gay" had just started to mean "homosexual" and homophobia was prevalent.
We ran for miles through that impeccable gingerbread town with rasping lungs, the screaming harpy hot on our heels... I'm sorry. This really happened and the crazy details are only because they are true. Back to the chocolate.

Step 1: Smack It and Crack It

Then eat it and feel good. It's amazingly cheap. At Berkeley Bowl it's $2.50 for more than a pound.
My friends who are chocolate connosieurs especially like it.

I didn't know I had friends like this until I started pushing the "brown brick".
One such pal was practically weeping and thanking me for the best thing I'd ever done for him. He then opened a special cupboard and revealed his supply of raw and dried cacao and variously processed chocolates arranged by nation of origin and other traits.
Apparently he was blessed with a profound appreciation for the stuff and vast resources. An interesting guy. He'd convinced himself and some elite backers that he could produce an artificial intelligence. He cloistered himself in his Manhattan apartment with computers and a grand piano. He eliminated all other distractions from his life so he could proceed. The apartment happened to be the one from the movie "ghostbusters". Quite a nice place. My friend's situation was more like the movie "Pi" but more upscale. Sorry. Another digression.
The point is that this stuff is really good, and the more refined your taste the more you'll appreciate it.

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    37 Discussions

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    benthekahn

    10 years ago on Step 1

    I eat that exact stuff sometimes. I usually eat in a spiral pattern until I reach the center.

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    nordmann

    11 years ago

    I think you mean "Hellenization"--not "Latinization". Theobromine is based on Greek root words. Is everything we eat from the New World? Hmm... I didn't know the Aztecs had wheat. Or cheese. Or--the most important of them all--beer. Still, I'm so addicted to Ancho chiles, that I don't think I'd miss it much if the old world foods dissappeared. A good chile sauce with corn tortillas and some Mezcal with sangrita is all I need. Oops--Mezcal would be impossible, too, since distillation was brought in from Europe!

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    mansionwbnordmann

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Actually, there was beer in America. I think the best known was a beer of corn called "chicha". They had no wheat, but they had corn. The distillation already existed in America, although different, It existed. Mezcal is used before the arrival of the first Europeans. Not everything has come from America, yeah, but I think America has given more to the world than whatever he has received. Perhaps one should not compare. We are human and share the world.

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    tesseliot

    7 years ago on Introduction

    I love the Ibarra chocolate, and make it hot in the Fall and Winter. It always comes out for Day of the Dead. The really nice way to make it though, is with the Mexican hand beater (I forget it's name)--it's a round carved dowel that you roll between your hands, while the knobby part stays in the milk (or whatever liquid) and mixes it all up. That sugar takes some serious mixing to dissolve but it brings out the almond taste when you take your time. The main thing is you aren't tasting chocolate that has been "dutched" with a potassium wash which makes it darker, but neutralizes the acidity. I like both, but the aroma of unprocessed cocoa is divine. Ibarra with all it's almondy goodness tastes unique. I do want to try it in almond milk one day!

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    Nachomantesseliot

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    The Mexican hand beater is called a molinillo. It serves a three-fold purpose: it aerates the liquid, bringing up the foam; it helps to dissolve the chocolate (it is the cacao what doesn't dissolve easily, BTW); if the liquid is milk, it keeps it from boiling over.
    If you want variety, try doing the choc with water and experiment with tea-making herbs and sweet spices, then serve with a dash of cream milk. I personally like it with lemongrass and vanilla.

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    Punktastic

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Ummm :)) oh :)))) I'll stop now. "the tree that produces chocolate" really? Really, really, really? That tree produces chocolate you say? :D hahaha that line was funny. Nice story by the way. :)

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    Cristian Lavaque

    12 years ago

    I agree Ibarra is better than Abuelita, although neither of them is as good as what it used to be a long time ago, or so my mexican wife tells me. Recently, a group of merchants from Oaxaca sold hand-made stuff in this town, Taxco, and I was lucky to find chocolate. It was even better than Ibarra's, I still have some left. :) Anyway, I tend to prefer Aguila's, which I used to buy in Argentina. From a quick search I found that Trade Fair in NY has some of it, in case you wanna try it. Had a lot of fun reading your tutorial. Thanks!

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    GebcasCristian Lavaque

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Man you're wrong Taxco is located in Guerrero not in Oaxaca and the thing that you just have there isn't handmade is just "abuelita" without the container. If you want to try a real beverage made with chocolate(like the one Moctezuma used to drink) try the "pozol" it's made in the mexican state of Chiapas greeting from Mexico City aka "Tenochtitlan"

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    Cristian LavaqueGebcas

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    I didn't say Taxco is in Oaxaca, I said that someone from Oaxaca was selling it in Taxco. I live in Taxco and know where it is. Thanks for the tip on pozol, I'll ask an amber-merchant friend from Chiapas that comes to town now and then, to bring some!

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    GebcasCristian Lavaque

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah you should try the pozol it's made with cocoa beans and "masa" (you live in Taxco so you must know it) then it's mixed with sugar and then cooled with ice it's quite tasty so I hope you like it or you would like to try the "champurrado" it's a kind of "atole" made with chocolate too. So I hope you can try them. Ok see you Greetings from Mexico City aka Tenochtitlan UNAM

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    stasteriskGebcas

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    WOW!! Champurrado sounds DELICIOUS!! Can you post an instructable on how to make it?

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    rosewood513

    7 years ago on Introduction

    This is the best chocolate, I loe the grainy sugary taste. I use it both ways eat and or drink. The rinkbecomes smooth because it melts when cooked in milk.
    I use soy milk and it tastes great.

    have you ever tried the recipe for hot chocolate that is on the box? I am curious about how it might taste and if the finished product was grainie or smooth.

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    laxap

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Can you judge chocolate (and people BTW) based on a limited/single experience? Nestle should not be the reference. They make industrial products. Try Lindt. If you never tried pralines made by hand by some of the few good swiss local confectioners, then you ***don't now what chocolate is***.

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    casatortugas

    9 years ago on Step 1

    you can also take a knife and place it above the "cuts" on the chocolate and then use a hammer, sorry we have use that method at home always, my granny taught me, and yes I´m mexican too. try placing it also inside bread and then putting it on the stove or oven, it melts and is really tasty.

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    schimmi

    9 years ago on Introduction

    i love the movie pi. quite the mindfuck. but i did like requiem for a dream more, but anything by darren aronafsky is wonderful. I'll have to look for some of that ibarra. it's also silly that there's a chocolate called little grandmother

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    kg1

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Mmmmmmm I love me some Ibarra or Abuelita.I grew up on it, my grandmum and mum never bought crappy Nesquik. I eat the triangles plain too myself. I like using the bricks to make champurrado too.