Stepping off the train and onto the Chamartín platform, I had arrived in Madrid. The delicate and warm breeze stirred a sweet memory. My thoughts specifically trailed back to a professor, who once mentioned an authentic Spanish drink – ‘chocolate a la taza.’ Compared to American hot chocolate, she likened the Spanish equivalent to pudding. Given the direct translation, ‘chocolate in a cup,’ the Spanish version demands a high ratio of chocolate content. And, who wouldn’t want more chocolate?
For the love of chocolate, I was happy to try this specialty drink. After an afternoon trip to ‘El Rastro,’ Madrid’s popular open-air flea market, I retreated to a nearby family restaurant. Feeling peckish, I reviewed the menu and was delighted to notice my sought-after treat – ‘chocolate a la taza.’ Mission accomplished! Not only was the drink available, it was made-to-order and served promptly; all of which left me satisfied. Success tasted sweeter upon receiving a plate of fried strips of dough, ‘churros,’ which I had not expected. In the presence of chocolate, I must say, the grass is greener.
Familiar though slightly different, which do you try first – the hot chocolate or crispy fried curlers? Decisions, decisions… Luckily, most people think and eat alike. Two words: Dunkin Donuts. That’s how you treat this duo; dunk the strips into your beverage and allow its ridges to soak up all the chocolaty goodness. Rebel with a cause, I preferred to taste ‘chocolate a la taza’ in its purest form – straight up!
Is it a chocolate drink or dessert? Distinct tastes will yield differences of opinion. As such, categorizing ‘chocolate a la taza’ is up for debate. With respect to flavour and consistency, I would judge Spanish hot chocolate to be richer, and unmistakeably thicker than the American variety. Close to but not an exact replica of pudding, I deem this liquid ganache to be divine on its own, and more heavenly when paired with ‘churros.’ Food or drink, ‘chocolate a la taza’ is unquestionably from the Gods.
Copyright © DISHFUL, 2013.