This lovely tradition isn't something that I've devilishly come up with on my own. While I was living in Argentina, I found that having hot chocolate as part of a light meal, it's totally acceptable and even considered a benefit to your health. Sure, I've heard that a small portion of dark chocolate of the purest quality in moderation has benefits for your heart but thick, rich, milky sweet hot chocolate for breakfast? Perhaps it's more preferred by those who want to avoid the caffeinated beverages like tea and coffee. In Argentina, there's this delightful hour that people dedicate to merienda, or a tea time. Argentines from the interior, or the provinces outside of Buenos Aires, generally spend it within their own homes with their family. Typically these treats are usually what people also eat for breakfast. It's all about the sweet breakfast there. Savory breakfasts of eggs and toast is very strange for most people there. They serve tea or coffee and even hot chocolate with a delicious array of sweets:
facturas con crema
dulce de cayote..this is a sugary substance that is made from the fruit of this type of green melon. It's baked in the oven and then the fibrous fruit inside is soaked in water then cooked with sugar.
and of course, the one and only dulce de leche.
Sometimes we'd even have this for breakfast.
Which reminded me of frosting covered animal crackers.
It was even acceptable to go out for churros and chocolate for merienda as a treat.
I loved this tradition. Who wouldn't? When I was living in Tucuman, the smallest province in Argentina, it was typical to have merienda after waking up from the siesta. Imagine this, you go home, you eat a huge lunch during midday and then you take a nap for a couple of hours and wake up to have this delicious dessert like tea. Needless to say, it was like a foodie lovers dream.
In Canada and in the U.S. I remember as a kid that having a glass of milk with every meal was the way that parents would get us to have a healthy dose of calcium. Not in Argentina, milk is rarely drank plain. Typically kids drink it after it's been boiled over the stove or with chocolate. Even at a comedor, a soup kitchen/ center for kids where I spent my free time teaching English, part of the provisional government bundle of minimal food goods given to kids included chocolate. Since I've given up coffee for a while as a New Year's Resolution and am craving something warm, creamy and comforting I think that this Saturday morning I'll get in a healthy dose of calcium with a rich yummy mug of hot chocolate.