Tsokolate Eh; Tsokolate Ah

Tsokolate Eh; Tsokolate Ah

Do you know the difference?

A passage in chapter 11 of Dr. Jose Rizal’s esteemed novel Noli Me Tángere will usually go over Filipino students’ heads. It’s the simple act of preparing hot chocolate, though it is indicative of how Padre Salvi (or some other friar during those times) treats his guests.

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“Well, if he offers you chocolate—which I doubt—but if he offers it remember this: if he calls to the servant and says, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, eh!’ then stay without fear; but if he calls out, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, ah!’ then take your hat and leave on a run.”

“What!” the startled visitor would ask, “does he poison people? Carambas!”

“No, man, not at all!”

“What then?”

“‘Chocolate, eh!’ means thick and rich, while ‘chocolate, ah!’ means watered and thin.”

translated from Chapter 11, Noli Me Tangere, retrieved from gutenberg.org

Why is this significant? It’s because people back then looked at tsokolate eh as a far superior drink, reserved only for the ruling class (i.e. Spaniards). “Eh” was believed to have come from the Spanish word espesso (thick), while “ah” from aguado (watered down or thin).

Nowadays, it doesn’t matter if you’re into tsokolate eh or tsokolate ah, as it boils down to personal taste. What you may want to look into is what you pair your traditional Filipino chocolate drink with.

The basics
Café Adriatico is one of the best places to get tsokolate eh, served with pan de sal, a Filipino bun, and kesong puti or cheese made from carabao’s milk. Café Adriatico’s original branch in Remedio Circle, Malate, Manila and has a branch at SM Mall of Asia.

FB: @CafeAdriatico

The Vakul

Ivatan woman wearing vakul.

Something to add to the Mad Hatter’s collection: the vakul, a quirky headgear worn by the local women
 of Batanes in northernmost Philippines to protect themselves from harsh weather conditions—the scorching heat of the sun, rains, and even strong winds.

Voyavoy leaves (Philippine date palm) are sun-dried and woven to make a vakul.

Nowadays, you’d see vakul-donning locals in Batanes gamely posing for a snap. Help out by buying a vakul from them, which could very well be a good travel token.

Get there
SkyJet Airlines flies daily from Manila to Batanes.

Photo by Ferdz Decena

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