Tableas: Hot Choco Drink & Champorado

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Uh oh, the last of the Batangas tableas from my mom are gone! Can’t get enough of hot choco drink and champorado (chocolate rice as Cean calls it, which is like chocolate-flavored rice porridge). We’d surely miss the taste of these delightful chocolate tablets (or balls?) made from native cacao.

I was just thinking of writing down how I prepared the above but I read about the history of chocolate and I couldn’t resist the urge to share it. To summarize it all, the culinary use of cacao (or Theobroma which means ‘food for the gods’) especially as a beverage, is said to be 1st developed in what is now Mexico. It was passed on from the old inhabitants such as the lowland Maya to the other inhabitants of central Mexico. The Aztecs, in particular, took it to new heights of significance. The Spaniards then picked up the habit, the royals married to the French, and soon the choco drink became popular to Europeans just like coffee and tea. How the cacao plant reached the Philippines sometime in 1670 and how our ancestors experimented w/ this lovingly meticulous cacao processing that made it Filipino is another story I would rather hear from a qualified researcher. Like how true is this story of Spanish immigrant Jose Maria Pueo who arrived in the country and founded a chocolate factory in post-Colonial Intramuros. And I’m sure you’ve heard of tsokolate-eh (thick choco drink) preferred by Intramuros – affluent families and Spanish friars, as well as tsokolate-ah – the indio’s (poor man’s) watered down version from Joji.

The Mayan Indians of Central America and the Aztec Indians of Mexico were the original cultivators of cacao beans. They were growing cacao well before Columbus discovered America. Botanists believe that the cacao tree originated in the Amazon river basin in South America. In 1528, Hernando Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico, took some cacao beans to Spain. In 1606 the beans were introduced into Italy. and shortly after, people in Austria and France began to use them. By 1707 cocoa had become a fashionable beverage in London. Through the 17th century until early 1900’s the Spanish religious community built a reputation for high quality production of cooking chocolate, which they called ‘Tableas’.

Hot Chocolate Drink
Grate or chop desired amount of chocolate and dissolve in boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved. Serve hot with evaporated milk, sugar or just as it is. To enjoy a great cup, you need to get the proportion of tablea to water right. Mine is about a tablea to a cup (the size of a coffee mug) – grainy and less smooth – which may be too strong for others. Hmmm, you can always adjust the quantities to suit your taste.

This would be similar to the above except w/ the rice. You may use glutinous rice or just plain leftover rice like we normally do back home. Grate or chop desired amount of chocolate and dissolve in boiling water. Stir until completely dissolved. Pour in about a bowl of leftover rice (depends on how many serving you require) and let it boil until the mixture thickens. Again, adjust the chocolatiness to suit your taste and serve hot with evaporated milk, sugar or just as it is.

Momma always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. – Forest Gump

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I am not a professional cook. My only claim to having a culinary background is a short stint as my dad’s teen ‘sous chef’ in his carinderia ages ago. Dad ran small eateries since I was a young kid - serving standard ‘turo-turo’ food ranging from the likes of menudo, adobo, pritong isda, dinuguan, binagoongan, bopis, munggo, pinakbet and giniling to merienda fares like goto, ginataan, pancit bihon, halu-halo and saging con yelo.

My father, a farmer in his hometown before working his way to becoming an accountant, definitely influenced my cooking in a lot of ways than I thought. My siblings and I were raised in a backyard full of fruit trees and vegetable garden. We spent weekends and the summer breaks running around with ducks, chickens, goats and pigs. I had wonderful memories of gathering eggs, butchering chickens, selling vegetables and the sweet aroma of preserved fruits. But my love for art led me to a degree in Architecture. Just few months after getting my license, I went abroad and lived independently at age 23. Definitely no maid, no cook, and a totally different food culture. Along the way I met lots of friends and spent what seemed a lifetime learning new tricks and recipes.

Now living in Auckland, I am a work-from-home mum who juggles time between work, fun and family - in pursuit of work-life balance. No matter how busy I am, I love the idea of cooking for my family. My blog chronicles home cooking greatly influenced by life outside my home country from Southeast Asia to Beijing and Auckland. And most of the time, being busy also means easy (sometimes quick), affordable meals.

7 thoughts on “Tableas: Hot Choco Drink & Champorado

  1. as i’ve said to mareng joji, we only have antonio pueo brought along from manila..marco’s version is with peanut butter..i’m trying to click on jose maria busy or something..just want to know the relation b/w antonio and jose maria..hehe or is he one and the same person?

  2. according to their site… Jose Ma. Pueo started the first Chocolate Factory to produce Antonio Pueo Chocolates (named after his father and uncle).

  3. Hay nako! One of my backlogs is chocolate-making from roasting to drinking. Let’s see if I make progress this weekend.

    Hmmm… Isky, qualified environmental researcher po ako. We’ll have to look for a qualified food history researcher. Hehehe!

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