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Latino

A Taste of Tradition

For Hispanic Heritage Month, sample the flavors of our deeply rooted cultures.

Recipe with chocolate

— Reneé Comet/Lisa Cherkasky

En español | Latinos’ contributions extend across the sciences, arts and politics, but the Mayans and Aztecs savored the taste of chocolate long before there were spaceships, Guernica or contentious political parties.

The dark, rich and bitter concoction, one of America’s staples and a boon to its economy, was known to these early civilizations as the “food of the gods.”

Taste mole from Puebla or Oaxaca and you’ll know why. Chocolate was so sacred that only the most exulted enjoyed it, so prized that it was used as money. Even today, this Hispanic “gold” commands the world’s attention. Each year global chocolate sales approach $100 billion, and in 2009 Americans spent $55 per capita on chocolate.

Now consider the versatile, economical vegetable, corn. Polenta, tamales, corn flakes, tortillas, pupusas, hominy and popcorn all got their start 6,000 years ago in central Mexico. Loaded with nutrients and antioxidants, corn and chocolate are essential to the universal palate.

Chef Denisse Oller, our food and nutritional expert, offers weekly recipes.

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