Everywhere around the world, every season of the year, both children and adults take comfort in steaming or iced, based on personal preference, serving of liquid chocolate. Whether you buy your chocolate drink concoction from stores or make them from scratch at home, any frown will be turned upside down with one sip of a delicious chocolate drink. In Oaxaca, Mexico, they have a special recipe for chocolate that has been passed down all the way back from ancient times. They call this mesmerizing drink tejate, a beverage made from cacao and maize. In the small village of San Andrés Huayapam in Oaxaca, they even have a special festival to commemorate this drink, the Feria del Tejate.
Ancient Origins of the Cacao Tejate
Hot or iced chocolate is comfort food to the majority of cultures in the world. However, it is rare for people to think about the long history or the origins of this mainstream drink. Millennia ago, the Zapotec and the Mixtec, the indigenous peoples living in the geographical area of present-day Mexico, have already been enjoying this drink. Tejate is a Mexican Spanish term, but it was said to be derived from the Aztec word “texatl” which means flour and water.
Tejate is a favorite among the rural population. They make the tejate from several principal ingredients like fermented beans from the cacao plants, maize and mamey pits that have been toasted, and last but not the least, the flor de cacao for a more fragrant and flavorful. These ingredients are mixed together and turned into a paste and prepared to make the chocolate drink.
Tejateras and their Recipe
Oaxaca City in Mexico is a community where traditional ways of producing wood are still practiced. For one, using stone mills or molinos is a usual way for creating tejate and other favorite food in the area like horchata, champurrado, and Taza de chocolate. The locals of the city have operational community mills where they could request various ingredients to be grounded. Some of these include coffee, rice, herbs, and chilies. The tejate is a cultural drink and based on the traditions from which they have preserved this drink, and women are the traditional makers of this chocolate treat. They are called the tejateras, and each of them has their own individual recipes for the tejate as each has their own way of preparing it.
The process starts with the main ingredients being ground together in the community’s molino. The ingredients are ground with water and becomes a paste or a dough that is brown, wet, and glutinous. To this batch of dough, the tejatera would add water as high as a hand at first and begins to knead it industriously for twenty minutes. The kneading comes to an end when white curdles of foam arises from the dough. When ordering a tejata, the tejatera would ask customers to specify how sweet they want the drink to be. The sweetness comes from the syrup that they put at the bottom of the container. Then, they would add the brown liquid topped with a white, creamy topping.