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First Foods of America (1936) – Chocolate)

September 27, 2013
First Foods of America (1936) by Blanche and Edna V. McNeil

First Foods of America (1936) by Blanche and Edna V. McNeil

McNeil, Blanche and Edna V. McNeil. First Foods of America. Los Angeles: Suttonhouse LTD., 1936. [TX725 .M374 1936]


At the opening of First Foods of America (1936), Blanche and Edna McNeil offer historical context for several ingredients that they see as central to Mexican cuisine: corn, beans, chocolate, chiles, maguey, and cactus.

With reference to chocolate, the authors quote Cortez’ claim that “A cup of this precious beverage permits a man to walk a whole day without taking any other food” and  also note that cacao beans were used as units of exchange. They provide the following description from Cortez of the Aztec’s chocolate preparation:

“The kernals, called cacao, they grind into a powder in special vessels. Then they put water in it, and stir it round with a spoon, and having beaten it they pour it from one vessel to another in order to make it foam, which foam is gathered into a suitable goble. Then they drink it they beat it with little gold, silver, or wooden spoons”(17)

The authors note that while additional ingredients like sugar, nuts, and sometimes dried egg whites are added to contemporary drinking chocolate, the basic procedure remains much the same, as the chef uses a molinillo to beat the liquid to a good froth. The final chapter of recipes, “Bebidas”(Drinks) provides three detailed recipes for drinking chocolate, depending on whether one begins with cocoa powder, chocolate beans, or bitter chocolate.  All three recipes are presented below:


Abuelita Chocolate Brand

Abuelita Chocolate Brand

Chocolate (127)

  • 12 tablespoons cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 egg whites unbeaten
  • 12 teaspoons sugar
  • 12 cups milk

Make thin paste of egg whites, cocoa, cinnamon, sugar, using one cup cold milk. Boil remainder of milk. Slowly add boiling milk to thin paste over low fire, beating constantly with Dover egg beater. Then serve.

If real Mexican chocolate can be secured, follow recipe using only chocolate and milk, one square of chocolate to one cup milk. To dissolve, use hot milk instead of cold. The sugar and other ingredients are mixed with the chocolate before the Mexican makes it up into cakes.


Cocoa Beans

Cocoa Beans

Chocolate (127)

  • 6 pounds chocolate beans with skins removed
  • 1/2 pound almonds raw, blanched
  • 1/4 pound granulated sugar
  • 6 egg yolks well beaten
  • 5 ounces cinnamon, powdered from the sticks

Grind on the metate the chocolate, almonds, sugar, and cinnamon. Add egg yolks, form into molds and let dry. Keep in cool place ready for use.


Hot Chocolate

Hot Chocolate

Chocolate (127)

  • 3 squares bitter chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon sugar for each cup
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 5 1/2 cups milk

Melt the chocolate in double boiler. Add sugar, cinnamon, and milk. As it comes to a boil, beat with egg beater until frothy.


Image Credits

Aoife City Woman of Chile. “Oh Abuelita!” Used under CC License Attribution 2.0 Generic. 

homestilo. “Mexican Hot Chocolate.” Used under CC License Attribution 2.0 Generic. 

Woan, Ronald. “Chocolate Mayordomo.” Used under CC License Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0 Generic. 

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 27, 2013 9:30 am

    Been sampling my way through a few fresh chocolates in Oaxaca lately – a wonderful spicy, earthy taste lost in over-refinement in American and European chocolate.

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