I thought preparation meant simply placing tablea in a clay pot with water, putting it to a boil, and whisking the mixture with a batirol to create froth. She meant more than that.
She taught me how to plant cacao, making the best use of our parcel of land.
I am a cacao planter, and eventually a tablea maker.
This is my tablea tale.
I am a self-proclaimed chef, especially at home. I often find myself treating my friends – even people I’ve newly met or known – to a one-of-a-kind culinary experience…to delight and entertain them with my creative cooking and artistic food preparation. When my stubborn nature awakens, I set the cookbook aside and work the kitchen my way.
I must have gotten these traits from my grandmother. Like me, she was always full of passion in everything she did. She also found joy in giving surprises once in a while. It was from her that I learned the many surprises from tablea…how seemingly simple it is yet complex at the same time.
It is unbelievable how one needs to undergo a litany of steps to capture the best it has to offer.
My grandmother said everything starts with the beans. It is crucial that the cocoa beans are carefully selected, cleaned, and sorted. Once they are ready, the beans are roasted to perfection with controlled heat and specific amount of time. The smell and taste of the tablea largely depends on this important process.
Following the roasting is another crucial stage – the roasted cocoa nibs are pounded very carefully to produce what we call cocoa liquor or cocoa mass. Cacao lovers fondly call it unsweetened chocolate. The cocoa mass is then shaped into plumps, its form resting on the creative mind and artistic hands that mold them.
With these plumps, the gastronomic concoctions are simply endless…from luscious chocolate drinks to sumptuous chocolate cakes, each sip and bite is one delicious experience. But mine and my friends’ undying favourite – a generous, unadulterated cup of the good old tablea brewed just like my Lola loved it.
My Tablea Tale
My grandmother did not only give me a tablea drink; she taught me how to prepare one.
The tropical plant plus the fertile caly-loam soil in the Philippines makes a perfect combination for cocoa plant to flourish.
“With these plumps, the gastronomic concoctions are simply endless…”