Saturday, December 6, 2008


So there is chilate from the costa chica made of rice, cacao beans, cinnamon, and sugar and then there is the cool cacao based Oaxacan beverage that out cools the coolest of all cacao based beverages: tejate.

What makes tejate so special?

For me, it's the fluffy, foamy, goodness that floats on top. Basil says it's cacao butter, but I say it is the truly unique ingredient - cacahuaxochitl, or rosita de cacao, which is a flower that comes from a tree found only in San Andres Huayapam. The subtle details of this beverage making process is a culinary art form whose proud tradition has been passed down from mother to daughter for generations.

The cacahuaxochitl flower is ground up on the metate along with toasted cacao, cinnamon, and mamey seeds. This is mixed in with previously boiled and ground down corn and wood ash. A doughy mass is formed to which water is slowly added. The masa is laboriously blended by hand, wrist, and forearm into a liquid with a slightly earthy and amazingly rich and creamy, all-natural, non-dairy foam. Served chilled, with a little sugar water, in a lively painted gourd cup, one taste makes it easy to understand why it was considered a pre-Hispanic drink of the gods.

Sold in markets all over Oaxaca City and in close neighbouring towns, it is difficult to walk past the giant seductively foamy ceramic bowls without having a gourdful.

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