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The drink of our youth: Cacao Tablea

 

This is the cacao we grew up enjoying puro: warm and thick, and coating every piece of buttered pandesal or Calasiao puto we dip in our demitasse, and then we savor the last dregs of the tsokolate when the meal is over. Sometimes, our parents would use it to make champorado but, more often, we just pour it over sinangag when we’re having pingka or pindang for breakfast. It was not until later that us kids actually started drinking it - copying how our friends and guests at the Malabago home did it - with milk or coffee or plain.

Our grandparents planted many fruiting trees - cacao, mango, sampaloc, duhat, siniguelas, chico, kundol, kamias - and we hiked, had picnics, biked, picked up those trees' dried leaves during hot summers and cool Decembers. Long after Mama and Papa have passed, we still tread those familiar little paths with our four-legged family members for a bit of exercise or fleeting escape from life's trivial urgencies. But, before we begin our daily activities, there was tsokolate to be had.

The depth of the love our grandparents had for us overwhelms me sometimes: they planted trees whose fruits we would favor over others - their affection carrying through every morning meal at home.

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