Food Culture

Hot Chocolate and Sweet Breads Bring People Together

Hot Chocolate and Biscocho

Between the 20th of December and the end of the year, youth organizations of various associations, churches, and other groups organize “chocolatadas”, chocolate parties, for children and needy people. Making and sharing hot chocolate with other people is an important part of the Cuzco tradition of Christmas.

Either groups of youth or organizations gather money and donations to prepare these hot chocolate parties. They serve hot chocolate and Cuzco’s traditional biscochos with colored, candied raisins on top, or with a pieces of panetón—an Italian style fruit bread—that they buy in any of Cuzco’s many bakeries.

The hot chocolate parties are generally carried out in the poorer neighborhoods or in rural zones, in places removed from the city of Cuzco. To prepare the chocolate they carry their stoves, pots, and fuel as well as chocolate, milk and the required biscochos, although sometimes they take hot chocolate they have pre-made in big buckets ready to be served in disposable cups. All the needy children who are on the streets come to receive their share..

On posts and black boards in the various neighborhoods of the rural zones one can frequently see on these dates invitations directed towards children, youth, and adults to come to a chocolatada.

Women and their Sons from Rural Cuzco Who Came for Hot Chocolate and Toys
Women and their Sons from Rural Cuzco Who Came for Hot Chocolate and Toys

The children who spend time around Cuzco`s various public markets flock together in groups of friends. They roam  the streets of Cuzco cups in hand. They look for lines of people waiting to receive and join them in hopes of getting toys and / or hot chocolate.

The hot chocolate distributions are held on the main streets or in parks in the city. You can also find them in different businesses, bakeries, restaurants. When their owners find themselves filled with the spirit of Christmas they share hot chocolate with people.

Others ask for help from the municipal governments and from large businesses to be able to carry out these parties. From various places those who pull together a chocolatada look to share fellowship with all the population who comes to drink their hot chocolate.

Bar Chocolate to Make Hot Chocolate
Bar Chocolate to Make Hot Chocolate

There are some businesses that do not prepare hot chocolate parties but instead give out toys to children such as toy soldiers, cars, dolls, balls, albums with school photos. In these days the people with few resources form enormous lines so that their children can have gifts of toys for Christmas.

The lines that form these days really are immense. But the children do not get impatient. They talk, laugh with each other, play, and just have fun while waiting in the street for their hot chocolate, their biscocho or many times their toys.

In order for all the children to be happy with their gifts the organizers of each event have them mark their fingers with ink, as if this were an election, This is so that if they try to sneak back into the lines for more than one share they will be noticed and so that everyone can get their share.

Biscocho to Enjoy
Biscocho to Enjoy

The month of December is always a rainy month and a chilly one, as a result. In the mornings and evenings you feel the low temperatures and often shiver. Because of that people wear lots of wraps and coats. Hot chocolate is perfect at those moments to help people not feel the cold so intensely.

As a result many people prepare their chocolatadas at dawn and dusk to share a little warmth and fraternity with all the people of Cuzco who come in large numbers to receive their good will.

During this period people gather clothes and toys in good condition that they no longer use in order to donate them to the needy found in Cuzco’s various streets.

The motives of the organizers of these events is only to share with needy children, youth, and adults a simple hot chocolate and warmth for Christmas.

A Boy with his Toy Truck
A Boy with his Toy Truck
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