Grandma's Chocolate / El chocolate de Abuelita

Grandma's Chocolate / El chocolate de Abuelita

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Abuela's visits from Mexico are always full of excitement for young Sabrina. She can't wait to see what's in her grandmother's yellow suitcase covered in stickers from all the places she has visited. Opening it is like opening a treasure chest, and this year is no different. Inside are a host of riches: colorful ribbons, a clay whistle shaped like a bird, a drum, and the strong smell of chocolate.

"Abuelita, do you want to play a game? Let's pretend that I'm a princess," Sabrina says. "Okay, Sabrina," Abuela says, "but a Mayan princess should wear a beautiful dress called a huipil." And she pulls the traditional garment worn by Mayan and Aztec women from her suitcase.

Sabrina has lots of questions about her ancestors. Did Mayan princesses have money? Did they go to school? Did they eat chocolate ice cream? With her grandmother's help, Sabrina learns all about the cacao tree, which was first cultivated by Mexico's indigenous tribes. Today, seeds from the cacao tree give us chocolate, but years ago the seeds were so valuable they were used as money. And Moctezuma, the Aztec emperor, liked to eat chocolate poured over bowls of snow brought from the mountains!

Sabrina discovers that "chocolate is perfect for a Mayan princess." And children ages 4-8 are sure to agree as they curl up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate and this charming bilingual picture book that depicts a loving relationship between grandmother and granddaughter and shares the history and customs of the native peoples of Mexico.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781558855878
Publisher: Arte Publico Press
Publication date: 11/28/2010
Edition description: Spanish-language Edition
Pages: 32
Product dimensions: 8.70(w) x 11.20(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile: 600L (what's this?)
Age Range: 5 - 8 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Mara Price

Arte Público Press

Copyright © 2010 Mara Price
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-55885-587-8

Chapter One

When I opened the door, Grandma was there. After a big hug I said, "I'm so glad to see you!" I took her hand and led her to the room where she stays when she visits.

"What's in your suitcase this time, Grandma?" I asked.

"Surprises from Mexico, Sabrina," Grandma replied.

Her yellow suitcase was covered with round and square stickers from the places she had visited. Grandma lifted the heavy suitcase and put it on the bed.

"Open it carefully. It's so full of gifts it might explode!" she said, laughing.

It was like opening a treasure chest. There were colorful ribbons, a whistle, a drum and the strong smell of chocolate.

"I brought you some games that your mamá liked to play when she was your age," she said.

"Can we play music, Grandma?" I asked. "I like this drum."

"Pa rom pom pon!" I said as I marched with my new drum.

Grandma played the clay whistle. It was shaped like a dove. Grandma always liked birds. She said birds sing the songs of the clouds and they are the messengers from the earth to the sky

"I like playing with you, Grandma," I said, and gave her a hug.

Grandma took the colorful ribbons from her suitcase. I sat on the edge of the bed while she wove the green, white and red ribbons into my hair, first on one side and then the other.

When she finished, I looked at myself in the mirror. She had braided my hair into two braids and tied them over my head. I told her I looked like one of the Mayan princesses that she often talked about on her visits.

"Grandma, do you want to play a game? Let's pretend that I'm a princess."

"Okay, Sabrina," she said as she looked into the suitcase again, "but a Mayan princess should wear a beautiful huipil."

"What is a huipil, Grandma?"

"A huipil is a traditional blouse worn by Mayan and Aztec women. They still wear them today. Some are woven and some are embroidered," Grandma explained. "Every region has a special design. When you put on this huipil, you will look like a Mayan princess."

"Thank you, Grandma, it's beautiful. Were there really Mayan princesses?" I asked.

"Yes, Sabrina, there were both Mayan and Aztec princesses with black hair and dark eyes, like yours," she said. "Many years ago, our ancestors had palaces and gold, and great plantations of cacao."

"What is cacao?" I asked.

"The cacao is a tree and its seeds give us the chocolate we enjoy today. The Olmecs and Mayas were the first to make chocolate," she said.

That afternoon we went to the market to buy groceries. At the market I asked Grandma, "Did Mayan princesses have money?"

"Yes. In those times cacao seeds were used for money. Cacao seeds were so important that the Mayas even had a god of cacao named Ek Chuah," Grandma said.

"Grandma, if I was a Mayan princess, what could I buy with cacao?"

"You could buy a turkey or a rabbit with 100 cacao seeds. A baby rabbit was only 30 seeds, a turkey egg was three seeds and a big tomato was one cacao seed."

The next day, when Grandma walked with me to school, I asked, "Grandma, did Mayan princesses go to school?"

"Of course," she replied. "All the children of Mayan rulers had to learn how to read and write. You could be like them."

"The first word that I would learn to write would be 'cacao,'" I told her as she left me at the school gate.

After school, Grandma took me to have an ice cream at the Frozen Cone. She would be leaving the following morning.

I ordered a scoop of chocolate. "Grandma, did princesses have chocolate ice cream?"

"Well, they say that the emperor of the Aztecs, Moctezuma II, liked chocolate poured over bowls of snow brought to him from the high mountains."

"Wow! Like a snow cone!" I said.

"Mayan princesses also drank hot chocolate. They used to serve it in clay cups called jarros," Grandma said.

"How did they make it?" I asked.

"They ground up the cacao seeds on a hot metate and mixed the paste with water," she explained. "The taste was a little bitter so they sweetened it with honey and sometimes they used flowers, allspice, chile or vanilla for flavoring. They made a topping of foam on the chocolate drink by pouring it back and forth from one container to another. This was always part of the ritual of serving chocolate," she said.

"Chocolate is perfect for a Mayan princess," I said.

Once we were back home in the kitchen, I sat down at the table with Mamá. Grandma brought out a box shaped like a hexagon.

"Look, Sabrina, chocolate from Mexico," Mamá said.

"Cacao," I said with a smile.

Grandma opened the package and took out a tablet of Mexican chocolate. She broke it in pieces with several loud noises: Clack! Clack! She picked up several large chunks. Mamá and I nibbled at the crumbs that were left over.

I helped Grandma fill a pot with milk. She turned on the stove and warmed the milk. As it was heating she dropped in the pieces of chocolate. She stirred the milk to keep it from burning.

"Look. Do you see how the mixture darkens as the chocolate melts? Please hand me the jarros, Sabrina," said Grandma.

I handed Grandma two of the large cups from the cupboard.

Mamá and I watched as Grandma poured the hot chocolate back and forth in the cups.

"This is how the Mayas and Aztecs made the delicious foam. Nowadays many people use a molinillo," said Grandma.

Mamá and I smelled the cacao aroma before taking a sip.

I liked the feeling of the foam in my mouth. "Yummy," I said.

As we savored the chocolate, we toasted our ancestors: one for the Olmecs, another one for the Mayas and one more for the Aztecs. And we toasted the great discovery of chocolate.

In the morning we took Grandma to the airport.

I handed her a drawing that I had made of a big cacao tree. I found it in Mamá's encyclopedia.

"Thank you, Sabrina," Grandma said. "This picture is a perfect memory of my visit."

I was sad that Grandma was leaving.

"Grandma," I said, "I'll miss you. You're leaving too soon. I don't want you to go."

"I know, Sabrina," she said. "I'll miss you, too. But I will think of you always, especially whenever I drink hot chocolate. Will you do the same for me?"

Cuando abrí la puerta, Abuelita estaba allí. Después de un gran abrazo dije —¡Qué gusto verte! —La tomé de la mano y la llevé a la habitación donde siempre se queda cuando nos visita.

—¿Qué tienes en tu maleta esta vez, Abuelita? —pregunté.

—Sorpresas de México, Sabrina —Abuelita contestó.

Su maleta amarilla estaba cubierta de calcomanías redondas y cuadradas de todos los lugares que había visitado. Abuelita levantó la pesada maleta y la puso encima de la cama.

—Ábrela con cuidado. ¡Está tan llena de regalos que puede explotar! —dijo, riéndose.

Era como abrir un cofre de tesoros. Había listones de muchos colores, un pito, un tambor y un fuerte aroma a chocolate.

—Te traje unos juegos que a tu mamá le gustaba jugar cuando tenía tu edad —dijo.

—¿Podemos tocar música, Abuelita? —pregunté—. Me gusta este tambor.

—¡Tun ta ca tún! —dije al marchar con mi nuevo tambor.

Abuelita tocó el pito de barro. El pito tenía la forma de una paloma. A Abuelita siempre le han gustado las aves. Dice que las aves entonan las canciones de las nubes y que son mensajeras de la tierra al cielo.

—Me gusta jugar contigo, Abuelita —le dije y la abracé.

Abuelita sacó los listones de colores de su maleta. Me senté en la orilla de la cama mientras trenzaba los listones verdes, blancos y rojos en mi cabello, primero en un lado y después en el otro.

Cuando terminó, me miré en el espejo. Me había hecho dos trenzas y las había atado sobre mi cabeza. Le dije que parecía una de las princesas mayas de las que siempre me contaba durante sus visitas.

—Abuelita, ¿quieres jugar un juego? Imaginemos que soy una princesa.

—De acuerdo, Sabrina —me dijo mientras se asomó en su maleta otra vez—, pero una princesa maya debe llevar un lindo "huipil".

—¿Qué es un huipil, Abuelita?

—Un huipil es una blusa tradicional que usaban las mujeres mayas y aztecas. Aún los usan. Algunos son tejidos y otros son bordados —explicó Abuelita—. Cada región tiene un diseño especial. Cuando te pongas este huipil, te verás como una princesa maya.

—Gracias, Abuelita, es hermoso. ¿En verdad había princesas mayas? —pregunté.

—Sí, Sabrina, había princesas mayas y aztecas con el cabello y los ojos negros como los tuyos —dijo—. Hace muchos años, nuestros antepasados tenían palacios y oro, y grandes plantaciones de cacao.

—¿Qué es cacao? —pregunté.

—El cacao es un árbol y sus semillas nos dan el chocolate que tanto nos gusta. Los olmecas y los mayas fueron los primeros en preparar chocolate —dijo.

Por la tarde fuimos al mercado a comprar los comestibles. En el mercado le pregunté a Abuelita —¿Tenían dinero las princesas mayas?

—Sí. En aquellos tiempos las semillas de cacao se utilizaban como dinero. Las semillas de cacao eran tan importantes que los mayas hasta tenían un dios del cacao llamado Ek Chuah —dijo Abuelita.

—Abuelita, si yo fuera una princesa maya, ¿qué podría comprar con el cacao?

—Podrías comprar un pavo o un conejo por 100 semillas de cacao. Un conejo pequeño sólo costaba 30 semillas, un huevo de pavo tres y un tomate grande una semilla.

Al día siguiente, cuando Abuelita me encaminó a la escuela, le pregunté —Abuelita, ¿las princesas mayas iban a la escuela?

—Por supuesto —me contestó—. Todos los hijos de los gobernantes mayas tenían que aprender a leer y a escribir. Tú podrías ser como ellos.

—Entonces la primera palabra que aprendería a escribir sería "cacao" —le dije mientras me dejaba en el portón de la escuela.

Después de la escuela, Abuelita me llevó a tomar un helado en el Frozen Cone. Se marcharía a la mañana siguiente.

Pedí un helado de chocolate. —Abuelita, ¿tenían helado de chocolate las princesas?

—Bueno, se dice que al emperador Azteca, Moctezuma II, le traían pozuelas de nieve de lo más alto de las montañas y le gustaba comerlo con chocolate batido encima.

—¡Vaya! ¡Como una raspa! —dije.

—Las princesas mayas también bebían chocolate caliente. Lo servían en tazas de barro llamados "jarros" —dijo Abuelita.

—¿Cómo lo preparaban? —pregunté.

—Molían las semillas de cacao en un metate caliente y mezclaban la pasta con agua —explicó—. El sabor era un poco amargo así es que lo endulzaban con miel y a veces usaban flores, pimienta de Jamaica, chile o vainilla para darle sabor. Preparaban la espuma vertiendo el chocolate de un recipiente a otro. Esto siempre era parte del ritual para servir chocolate —dijo Abuelita.

—El chocolate es perfecto para una princesa maya —dije.

Cuando ya estábamos de vuelta en la cocina de casa, me senté a la mesa con Mamá. Abuelita sacó una caja en forma de hexágono.

—Mira, Sabrina, chocolate de México —dijo Mamá.

—Cacao —dije sonriendo.

Abuelita abrió la envoltura y tomó una tableta de chocolate mexicano. La quebró en pedazos con fuertes ruidos: ¡Pam-Pam! Recogió varios trozos grandes. Mamá y yo comimos los pedacitos que quedaron.

Le ayudé a Abuelita a llenar una olla con leche. Ella encendió la estufa y calentó la leche. Mientras se calentaba, Abuelita agregó los trozos de chocolate. Revolvió la leche para que no se quemara.

—Mira. ¿Ves cómo se oscurece la mezcla al derretirse el chocolate? Por favor, dame los jarros, Sabrina —dijo Abuelita.

Le di dos grandes tazas del trastero.

Mamá y yo observamos a Abuelita vertiendo el chocolate caliente de un jarro al otro.

—Así es como los mayas y los aztecas preparaban la deliciosa espuma. Hoy en día mucha gente usa un molinillo —dijo Abuelita.

Mamá y yo olimos el aroma del cacao antes de darle un traguito.

Me gustó sentir la espuma en mi boca. —Delicioso —dije.

Mientras saboreamos el chocolate, hicimos un brindis por nuestros antepasados: uno por los olmecas, otro por los mayas y uno más por los aztecas. Y brindamos por el gran descubrimiento del chocolate.

En la mañana llevamos a Abuelita al aeropuerto.

Le di un dibujo que hice de un gran árbol de cacao. Lo encontré en la enciclopedia de Mamá.

—Gracias, Sabrina —dijo Abuelita—. Este dibujo es el recuerdo perfecto de mi visita.

Me dio pena que Abuelita se fuera.

—Abuelita —le dije— te voy a extrañar. Te vas demasiado pronto. No quiero que te vayas.

—Lo sé, Sabrina —dijo—. Yo también te voy a extrañar. Pero siempre voy a pensar en ti cuando tome chocolate caliente. ¿Podrías hacer lo mismo por mí?


Excerpted from GRANDMA'S CHOCOLATE/EL CHOCOLATE DE ABUELITA by Mara Price Copyright © 2010 by Mara Price. Excerpted by permission of Arte Público Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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