Chocolate and chilli, two of my favourite things and they hail from Mexico! Both words, chocolate and chilli, come from Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs (the rulers of Tenochtitlan, or current day Mexico city). Chocolate was consumed as a bitter drink, spiced with chilli peppers. Ian Mursell from Mexicolore (www.mexicolore.co.uk) explains that chocolate was regarded as the blood of the gods and was consumed only by noblemen. Cocoa beans were also used as money, so their value was immense to the Aztecs.
Chilli is hugely part of Mexico’s ancient and contemporary culture and it is used in so many Mexican dishes, but it also plays apart in the cheeky nature of Mexican jokes and double meanings. Be very careful when asked if you like chilli in Mexico…answering yes could result in a lot of laughs and muffled sniggers due to it’s similarity to certain part of the male anatomy! Did you know that India did not have chilli until the late 15th century when it was exported from Mexico by the Spanish?
There’s nothing like mixing chocolate with chilli (and cinnamon) to give you a taste of Mexico. Check out this cake we made, below and find the recipe here. It can transport you to Mexico in a mouthful!
More to excite the senses:
Like Water for Chocolate, Como agua para chocolate :A wonderful book and film about a woman who only allows herself to express her desires when she cooks, a true feast for your senses and emotions.
Mole Poblano (Pronounced Mol-ay): A sauce for meats and enchiladas made using chocolate and chili and sometimes as many as 20-25 ingredients.
La Cumbia del Mole: A beautiful song by the equally beautiful Lila Downs, celebrating the sights, sounds and culinary delights of Oaxaca in Southern Mexico. Enjoy!
Susannah Rigg is a freelance writer and Mexico specialist. Her work has been featured in BBC Travel, CNN Travel, Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR and The Independent among others . Check out her portfolio here. Contact Susannah by email, info [at] mexicoretold [dot] com and join her on Instagram and Twitter.