At the back of the El Pochote organic market in Oaxaca, there are two (very) grumpy ladies who make an absolutely rocking cup of hot chocolate.
They take a caked block of chocolate – it looks similar to a brownie – and add it to a simmering pot of water on a wood-fired stove, fanning the flames with a straw beater and sending ash flying into the air.1
Once the block has dissolved, they use a swizzle stick called a molinillo2 to whisk up the liquid, rubbing the stick between their hands to generate a thick, silky froth. Apparently, the more foam there is, the better the hot chocolate tastes.
The last step is to ladle the chocolatey goodness into a bowl. I don’t know what they have against mugs with handles, but the bowls certainly allow you to breathe in more of the rich chocolate smell, and warm your hands on the clay. It’s not as sweet as hot chocolate back home, but has a cinnamon-y, spiced taste that was a perfect weekend breakfast treat.