During the rainy season in Cusco drinking a cup of hot chocolate brings warmth to the palate, the body, and the soul. When the rain and the cold shadows of clouds come together to the rhythm of the wind, people who find themselves in the streets desperately seek shelter.
Not everyone does. Some people wear impermeable jackets to face the rain and others buy plastic ponchos or umbrellas. In any case they all seek a warm drink to drive away the cold. At this time of year because of the rain and also because of the air of Christmas, hot chocolate with milk is simply one of the most consumed beverages.
To resist cold in this month of December during the mornings and nights there is nothing else that compares in flavor and warmth to a cup of hot chocolate. You can feel the way your cup embraces your fingers in warmth while it lets of an aroma of cacao and milk. It is comforting and warming.
Of course you should also be careful to have warm clothes handy for moments like this, even though it feels warm those times when the sun breaks through the clouds.
One tradition regarding chocolate is strongly practiced in Cusco this month. People organize hot-chocolate parties, called chocolatadas. Between the 22nd and the 28th more or less youth groups, organizations, institutions, businesses, NGOs, and others make up large pots of hot chocolate for Christmas. Some take it to towns and communities outside the city while others give it out in the markets and sports fields of the poorer neighborhoods of the city or on the edges of it where youths and old people wait to share and rub shoulders with all present.
Neighborhood youth groups in the neighborhoods come together to gather funds and donations to carry out a chocolatada with bizcochos, a kind of cookies, or a slice of panetón, Christmas sweetbread. The motive for organizing these events is just the desire to share.
Some hotels of the city also organize the hand out toys or a cup of hot chocolate with a piece of sweet bread. Children, youth, and elderly gather at these points of sharing. They form large lines where they await their turn to receive their gift.
Many people come to the chocolatadas, especially kids. They get together with their friends to share moments together. They play, laugh, and have fun while waiting their turn. When the hot chocolate and the cookies are in their hands their joy becomes greater. They often dip the cookies in the hot chocolate to mix the flavors and enjoy even more.
On the 24th at midnight, when the skies are filled with colors from fireworks, families get together to share and enjoy hot chocolate together with the panetón. During that moment of unity they reflect on the past in order to project themselves forward into the future.
The rich, dark color and sweet flavor of the chocolate is a motive for sharing during this time of the year. To make it you only need one of the classic chocolate bars of Cusco, specially made for hot chocolate, milk, cloves, cinnamon, and sugar.
In the cafes of Cusco you can find a glass of hot chocolate year round. Around the Plaza de Armas, the city’s main square, you will find caseras year round who walk around offering hot drinks for passersby and for the workers of the different establishments. They go by pulling a small cart with two wheels where they carry thermoses filled with ponche de habas (a drink made of ground toasted broad beans), oatmeal with milk, coffee, quinua with apple, and, of course, hot chocolate with milk. You can always enjoy this drink in our city.