As a child growing up in a Catholic family, I often chose to give up chocolate for Lent. Looking back it wasn’t a huge sacrifice because, one, I came from a very modest background and chocolate was already a rare treat, and two, the only chocolate we ever had either came in the form of a large block HERSHEY’S bar or Nesquik, the chocolate flavored drink mix which promised to “make milk fun” and enhance your muscle mass.
I imagine that for a child growing up in this Catholic land of artisan chocolatiers, with so many cold and dreary days leading up to Easter, the thought of snuggling up with a warm cup of herbal tea for 40 days rather than a lavish, velvety mug of hot chocolate must be daunting.
The origins of this dreamy, creamy drink are exotic for sure.
Montezuma’s Aztecs were the first to brew this delectable drink, which they called Xocolatl. Sipped singularly by the ancient elite, life was grand in Aztec-land. That is until Hernan Cortez dropped by in 1517 and was mistakenly offered a nip of their elixir. Impressed and obsessed with the luxury beverage, he conquered their entire kingdom.
Recipe in hand and cocoa beans in the bag, Cortez returned to Spain and brewed up a batch for Charles V. Initially the Spanish royals were less than thrilled with the dark, bitter liquid, but with the addition of sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla beans, they soon were smitten.
The chocolate tonic hit the French court following the marriage of King Louis XIII to the Spanish Princess Anne of Austria in 1615; and when the Spanish Princess Maria Theresa (the original chocolate addict) was betrothed to Louis XIV of France, chocolate became the drink of choice for the Sun King at Versailles.
Nowadays, hot chocolate is obviously accessible to the masses, but that doesn’t mean the French have to suffer through mass-produced hot chocolate. Like so many things in France, chocolat chaud has been elevated to an artisan level.
Enjoy this visual sample of the best cups I’ve savored over the last 4 weeks.
Please check back next week for my carnet d’adresses.
carnet d’adresses: address book
chocolat chaud: hot chocolate
Those pictures are just mean… downright mean! I could almost taste the chocolaty goodness! … almost, but not at all, which is painful!
Yum! I think there will be drinks like that in heaven!
As Clara would say, “It’s like heaven popped on a plate.” See you soon!
Nancy, we are going there this summer, and I already showed our girls what they have to look forward too – yum!
Have a great trip this summer. I promise to post my list of the best chocolat chaud in Paris soon. Avoid Angelina’s — it’s in all the guidebooks, but there are so many other better options.
Gawd just 1 cup of chocolat chaud is reason enough to go back to France!
Amen, sister. You’ve got that right. Especially when you are celebrating the first day of spring in a snow storm in NYC.
Even though it was in the 60s here today, I’m still lusting after a chocolat chaud after seeing this!
We will have to settle for some good coffee in Boulder when I get back to Colorado. x
But you didn’t tell us which one you like the best! Jacques Genin is my favorite I think.
I’m currently obsessed with:
La Charlotte de l’Isle
24 Rue Saint-Louis en l’Île, 75004
+33 1 43 54 25 83
Have you been there? Jaques Genin was on my list, but I always tried to go on a Monday and it was closed. I’ll be back in June. Shall we make a date?
I sent my daughter into a cafe in Limoux to order a chocolat chaud.
When I joined her, she was glumly nursing an orange juice.
The waitress said to me (in French) ” your daughter needs to learn how to order in a restaurant or she will surely die of thirst!”
Oh, sad story. Did you get her a chocolat chaud in the end?
Yes we did
Bless her, it’s like some kind of chinese whispers syndrome. I give her a french phrase and something entirely different comes out!
Been there, done that. Sigh…
The waitress had her tongue in her cheek too.
Yes! I had one of the best chocolat chaud when I was in Paris; definitely brings back good memories. 🙂
Chocolate chaud holds so many fond memories for me and my girls à Paris too. Nothing quite like it in America. Just like the French baguette, we’ve never quite successfully replicated it here.
I also had a Catholic upbringing and could never decide what to give up for Lent. I just hate giving up anything I love! So then I turned 16 and decided to give up religion, which solved the problem for me, to my mother’s eternal dismay 😉 Great post!
I’d give up religion any day in exchange for French hot chocolate, just don’t let my maman know, God rest her soul.
Oh my goodness what mouthwatering photos!! There is something about the way the French make hot chocolate that sets it apart – the flavours are unlike anything else I’ve ever tasted. We hope to go back to France next year as we haven’t been for a few years! Wonderful post 🙂
Yes. The French do chocolat chaud ancient very well. Snowing here in NYC and wishing I had a cup right now.
Have seen the weather on the tv in Boston and New York snow at the start of spring! Hope you keep warm!
Spring snow survived. I’m off in search of the famous ‘cronut’ ….croissant / donut hybrid today.
Sounds a good plan!
You have just solved my problem of how to avoid bad coffee in France! Why did I never think to have a chocolat chaud instead?? Thank you 🙂
Oh Melinda, when it’s good, it is so, so good! Missing it already.