Lola Bia’s hot chocolate can temper even the wild
By Gloria Esguerra Melencio
Now I know why my grandmother Lola Bia would not stop stirring with batidor the boiling chocolate in the clay kettle seated amid embers on the three-legged wood stove. A true-blue Paloanon, her parents coming from the Requiezes and Parados who taught her how to mold and dry tableas from cacao seeds, Lola Bia had always been on guard not to leave her thick, sweet smelling brew that can temper her wild grandchildren running to and fro, including me.
Lola Bia’s hot chocolate served with hot pandesal freshly baked from Good Morning Bakery, the only bakery in town in the 1970s, makes cold, rainy mornings pleasant. It cheers us up and prepares us for another day as the sugar shoots up, then gradually dies down toward noon in time for the regular afternoon nap.
I learned the lesson after several spilling and wasting the specially concocted chocolate when busy me (cooking while writing or cooking while sweeping) always leave the melting tableas with panochas (hardened coarse sugar cooked in halved coconut shells) to boil by itself. When it reaches the boiling state, the liquid chocolate surges up to the pot’s rim and rushes out putting off even the stove fire underneath – leaving only about a cup of the precious brew. It is now too late when I return rushing to uncover the pot and try to salvage what was left of it.
This I learned while boiling the solid, bitter tableas and sweet panochas, the last of the lot that I recently bought from Palo market during its regular market day on Saturdays. I discovered the reason why Lola Bia does not let her guard down.
I remember a Chilean friend telling me years ago that in her country there is a saying that likens the temper to hot chocolate: “Do not wait till I boil like chocolate,” warning her of an impending disaster should her temper wells up.
Chocolate rushes up quickly while boiling; unguarded temper gushes up. Hot chocolate hurts the skin more than boiling water does. Uncontrolled temper spells out disaster in the family and one’s environment – immediate or otherwise.
While putting the chocolate to a boil, constant stirring under slow, low cooking fire is a must. I was successful this morning when I did not leave my cooking to time. The rushing up of the hot liquid chocolate has been tempered with my reminding of myself that I have to be on guard – much like my Lola Bia.