A Global Delicacy: Hot Chocolate Around the World

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Lydia Scott

Diverse and Delicious: Each country has its own unique (and equally delicious) spin on the famous drink: Hot Chocolate.

Hot Chocolate: Inarguably one of the most popular and oldest drinks of the holiday season. When the temperature drops and the sweaters come on, it is common to favor hot chocolate as the best seasonal drink. Although many are most familiar with the Americanized version of hot chocolate – made from cocoa powder and milk – many countries worldwide have their unique spin on the famous beverage.

Just south of the United States, Mexico holds the title of the “founder of hot chocolate,” as the origins of the drink first trace back to the old Mayan civilizations of Mexico. The beverage was typically reserved for the wealthy, was bitter, made with water, and consumed cold. However, Mexican hot chocolate has evolved over time into the hot chocolate we’re more familiar with today. Despite the modern take, Mexico still has a unique, spicy kick to the drink by incorporating spices such as cinnamon and chili. It is often accompanied by sweet bread or cookies. “You can taste the real chocolate flavor with each sip,” said senior Jocelyn Quechol-Elias. “I like it much better than your typical American hot chocolate.”

Home to desserts such as crepes, croissants, and Creme Brulee, it’s no surprise that France also has a delicious rendition of hot chocolate. Referred to as Chocolat Chaud, French hot chocolate is made of authentic dark chocolate, whole milk, and cream – which creates a thickness that is more comparable to the texture of a melted fudge than an actual drink. Junior Eric Contis, of French origin, and his family usually make hot chocolate during the winter, as its rich flavor provides the ultimate comfort during the holidays. “When it comes to hot chocolate, the french do it like no other,” said Contis. “We love to add a bunch of cream and different toppings. It’s decadent and extravagant.”

Across the globe, variations of hot chocolate continue to amaze – including Columbia’s spectacular version. Columbian hot cocoa has a surprise ingredient at the bottom of the cup: cheese. Although a seemingly strange pairing, the sweet and salty flavor combination created by the chocolate and cheese is beloved by many. To make the drink, Columbians combine blocks of chocolate and boiling milk in a device called a chocolatera, essentially a large metal vase. They then stir the hot chocolate with a device called molinillo, which froths the hot chocolate. They add a cheese called queso fresco and sometimes saltine crackers to finish the recipe. Unlike other hot chocolates, Columbian hot chocolate is consumed year-round regardless of the season, similar to coffee. Columbian Spanish teacher Angela Johnson adores her culture’s version of hot chocolate and favors it over the American version each time. “The ingredients we put in our hot chocolate often gross people out, which makes me laugh because it’s completely normal in my culture,” said Johnson. “My mom knows how to work the molinillo well, which makes it so creamy and delicious every time.”

Whether salty or sweet, spicy or mild, white chocolate or brown chocolate, many can agree that hot chocolate is delicious. So, step out of your comfort zone this holiday season, Dubs, and try a new culture’s hot chocolate. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be your new favorite.