In her biweekly column, A Shared Tradition, CIA grad and amateur food historian Molly Siegler cruises around the world (and into the depths of her pantry) to explore the versatility of a single food item.
This week: Molly turns her attention to sweet, sippable chocolate.
Photo by James Ransom
The cacao bean is a powerful substance. It’s been wielded as currency, revered as a symbol of worship, touted for its medicinal properties, and used as a conduit of modern romance. In fact, I read 9 out of 10 people like chocolate -- the tenth is lying. As we approach Valentine’s Day, I thought it was time we talked about this inescapable, intriguing treat. Drinking chocolate, in particular, is well loved and, frankly, who needs a box of chocolates when you can drink your fill?
When I was 13, I was lucky enough to spend a week on an Alaskan cruise with my extended family. On an extra foggy and cool day, I braved the deck with my parents. We were quickly offered "Irish cocoa" or "regular cocoa." I requested Irish cocoa. I didn’t know what Irish cocoa was, but I knew I certainly didn’t want regular hot chocolate. In the end, despite my best efforts, I managed only a mug of regular cocoa. I promise these drinking chocolate concepts are anything but "regular"!
The original hot chocolate. It has a lingering heat that will rev-up any Valentine’s Day plans.
The bicerin is considered a historic drink in the Piedmont region of northern Italy.
The Brandy Alexander is a luxurious cocktail that is making a comeback. (This pie offshoot seems too good to be true!)
New York City
The chocolate egg cream is a New York fountain drink with fizzy staying power.
Photos by Sarah Shatz
These are just a few of the ways I like to travel by way of liquid chocolate. What other regionally inspired flavors would you use to make this sippable treat your own? Share your ideas in the comments section below.
Do you love a good food theme as much as I do? Tell me what food items or themes you'd like to see featured in this column and your idea could be the subject of an upcoming post!
Like this post? See Molly's previous topic: Sandwiches.
Molly is a chef and food educator living and cooking in Northern Wisconsin. When she's not dreaming up themed menus, she's dishing out other delicious content as the editorial assistant for the Whole Foods Market Cooking program.