Chocolate and Mezcal Pairing in Oaxaca, Mexico: Some Thoughts on Product Commonalities, Differences

She’s a tease. There’s no doubt about it. POLKADOT CHOCOLATE “No, not yet, you have to wait until I’m done first, please,” she entreats. While the foreplay is interesting, and sensuous to the extreme, I want to jump right in – and get at the three young mezcals, with 18 chocolates set up in front of them.

The evening was billed a mezcal and chocolate pairing event, or a maridaje in local parlance, held at Restaurante La Olla in downtown Oaxaca. It was hosted by owners Chef Pilar Cabrera and Ing. Luis Espinoza, and their special guest, chef/chocolatier Arcelia Gallardo. Mezcal brands Koch and Vago were featured.

Of course Chef Gallardo simply wanted us to hold off delving into her enticing chocolates alluringly set in front of us, with water at the ready and three mezcals in the wait. The idea was to direct us when to sample what, in the course of her discourse. using Oaxacan ingredients she had earlier sourced with the assistance of Chef Pilar.

This was more than a mezcal and chocolate combining encounter. It was a treatise on the history of cacao, a lesson on the production of chocolate, and a discussion of its different formulations based on country / continent of origin. In addition, of course, there was the main focus, learning an appreciation of different mezcals as paired with a variety of chocolates. Each chocolate had been hand-crafted that very day by Chef Gallardo .

“I came to Oaxaca principally to learn about the region’s unique flavors and ingredients, with a view to experimenting with how I could incorporate what I discovered into my chocolate,” she explained.what struck home most were the elements in common between and contrasted with cacao and chocolate on the one hand, and the iconic Mexican spirit on the other.

Yes, the packed house learned about chocolate’s Mesoamerican origins, the differences between South American, African and American cacao concoctions, what exactly white chocolate is, why chocolate melts in your mouth (and in fact in your hands), and tasting notes relative to each sample devoured. But for me, a mezcal aficionado and researcher for in excess of two decades,

Naturally I was interested in everything Chef Gallardo had to say, given that it was all new to me; and who doesn’t have an interest in the wherefores and whys of chocolate? But I continually found myself relating what I was being coached about cacao and chocolate, to mezcal as well as pulque.

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