Guatemalan Cuisine: Atol de arroz con chocolate
With the first rains comes the sompopo de mayo (May’s giant flying ant), and the sweet atoles become available at your nearest Guatemalan snack street vendor. The omnipresent atol blanco yields some space for one or two Guatemalan sweet atoles. In the chilly morning with rain curtains, one goes out to get the refacción, or “refa” for short (mid morning Guatemalan snack) and the sweet atoles are now available. This is the menu available at the street vendor half block away from the office: Atol de arroz con leche on Mondays; Atol de arroz con chocolate on Tuesdays; Atol de platano on Wednesday; Atol de habas on Thursday and Atol de platano on Fridays.
Today’s entry is Atol de arroz con chocolate which basically is a thick and hot drink made with rice and chocolate; thus its name. To prepare Atol de arroz con cholate, you boil some water with cinnamon sticks, then add some rice and you wait for the rice to be soft and finally add Guatemalan real chocolate bars, a pinch of salt and maybe some sugar. You can add Mexican chocolate instead, if you can not find real Guatemalan chocolate, but do not use cocoa. What’s the ratio between water and rice, I don’t know, but this is a drink so the ratio has to leave you with thick yet drinkable beverage.
Guatemalan Abbreviations of Names Side Note: One more aspect of the Guatemalan idiosyncrasy is the tendency to abbreviate or simply chop names. That’s how Guatemala City becomes simply Guate or “Uate” if you listen carefully to the chicken bus helper (cholojo is the technical name for the helper); Chichicastenango becomes Chichi (be careful with the pronunciation if you don’t want to be slap on the face); La Antigua Guatemala becomes Antigua; Panajachel becomes Pana, Huehuetenango becomes Huehue; Totonicapan becomes Toto; and so on. Interesting enough, Guatemalans tend to only abbreviate names of towns located on the Western highlands and costal low lands, where most of the indigenous people live. You rarely, if not ever, hear a short name for Zacapa, El Progreso, Puerto Barrios, Jutiapa, Santa Rosa, et-cetera. Why do you think is that so?
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