Did you know that the largest importer of Ceylon cinnamon, by far, is Mexico? It alone buys more than half the entire Ceylon cinnamon export each year. Mexicans are very particular about their cinnamon.
Much of it is used to mix with Mexican chocolate, which is generally unsugared. Ibarra chocolate, made in Jalisco and available online, is our favourite.
The chocolate is mostly used in “chocolate para mesa”, a hot chocolate drink made by dissolving and whisking Mexican chocolate in hot milk. To sweeten the drink, Mexicans add cinnamon; fresh cinnamon if possible. To spice it further, they sometimes add cayenne pepper.
At this time of year Mexicans celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), actually a three-day celebration. Families go the cemetery to decorate the graves of their relatives and to offer marigolds, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), sugar skulls and beverages such as champurrado, which is a chocolate-based atole drink rich with cinnamon.
Their offerings can be spooky but the aim is to remember and celebrate the dead.
It puts Halloween celebrations into context. Spice it up a little, boys!
(Photograph by Toby Ord)