You wake up early in the morning, and you find yourself sitting at the table, waiting for your regular coffee to brew and ask yourself, what can you do to change things up? You might think of other alternatives for your morning drink, and a cup of hot choco comes into mind.
While craving the thick and delicious flavor of that chocolate drink, it reminded you of a constant curious question that’s never been answered yet: What’s the difference between Tsokolate Eh and Tsokolate Ah? (Anong pagkakaiba ng Tsokolate E at Tsokolate A?)
The term Tsokolate Eh and Tsokolate Ah–which you probably have read in some Filipino restaurants’ menus–is a reference from the popular novel of the late National Hero Jose Rizal called “Noli Me Tangere”. An excerpt in the said novel says that the eh from Tsokolate Eh is derived from the word espresso which means thick, and the ah from Tsokolate Ah is derived from the word aguado.
Noli Me Tangere
The terms Tsokolate Eh and Tsokolate Ah is actually popularized by one of the novels of the famous hero Jose Rizal–the Noli Me Tangere. It is a novel created in the year 1887 which means “Touch Me Not” and it is a fictional story which reflects the realities of the society here run by the friars in the Philippines back during the colonial times.
It was highly criticized, especially by the majority of the Spanish people but it became one of the important tools which eventually became a means for the Filipinos to “fight back” and is now being studied everywhere in schools.
The connection of the terms Tsokolate Eh and Tsokolate Ah came from an excerpt in the said novel which depicts how the Spanish Franciscan friars treat the people with high social status (usually Spanish people themselves) and the people at the bottom of the society (Filipinos / Indios).
It shows that there is a large difference in the way they treat these people with different societal statuses.
Every time these scandals reached Father Salvi’s ears, he smiled and crossed himself, immediately reciting Our Father. They called him a watchdog, a hypocrite, a Carlist, a miser. Padre Salvi would only smile to himself and pray more. The Alferez always told the few Spaniards who visited him the following anecdote:
“Are you going to the convent to visit that little dead fly of a priest? Careful! If he offers you chocolate, which I doubt he will…but if he finally offers, be on guard. If he calls the servant and tells him: ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, eh?’ Then you can stay and not worry; but if he says ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, ah?’ then pick up your hat and exit running.”
“What?” Asked the other man fearfully. “Does he dole out poison? Good heavens!”
“Man, no; not to that extent.”
“Chocolate eh?” means espreso, thick; and ah means aguado, watered down.”
The Tsokolate Eh basically is a code for thick and rich chocolate, which symbolizes the important people with high social status. And then Tsokolate Ah is code for a diluted chocolate drink, which symbolizes not so important people.
This excerpt became popular to a number of Filipino restaurants, cafes, and chocolaterias and has adapted these terms in their menu. Don’t worry, because it completely has nothing to do with the societal statuses of the people, it’s just a reference!
Whether you prefer the Tsokolate Eh or the Tsokolate Ah, it’s purely personal preference and rest assured, you won’t be judged by what you’re getting.
Tsokolate or hot chocolate is a rather uncommon drink in the Philippines which is usually partnered with your favorite breakfast during the mornings, and can act as a substitute for a coffee and is also usually served hot. If you’re curious how to make a Tsokolate of your own (whether it is an eh or an ah), you don’t have to go elsewhere, we got you! All you need is water and cacao tablea or cacao tablets. Once you got those ingredients down, let’s do this step-by-step:
- Boil the about a cup of water in a kettle and then add the cacao tablets into it. Once you’ve done that, reduce the heat to bring to a simmer. Do this while stirring for about five minutes until the chocolate thickens into your desired consistency.
- For the next step, you’re going to have to whisk the chocolate! The traditional way is to whisk it manually using a traditional wooden batirol (whisk), and whisk it hard until a froth is formed. But if you want to make your life easier, you can use an immersion blender and mix it until it froths.
Tsokolate Eh, as said earlier from this article, refers to the chocolate drink that’s rich, thick and pure chocolate. It is made from cacao tablea which is made out of ground roasted cacao beans that’s formed into the shape of disks or tablets.
This hot choco drink which is frothy and rich in flavor is the more popular version of the two types.
Tsokolate Ah, is the other version of the chocolate drink that’s diluted in more water or milk, but is still rich in its chocolate-y flavor overall. This is the less popular version when it comes to hot chocos but some people prefer this drink more than its counterpart.
It all depends on what you prefer actually, and it can be easily changed by changing the ratio of the water and the cacao tablea.
Some Local Restaurants That Adapted The Concept
Here are a couple of restaurants and cafes which use references from the excerpt from Noli Me Tangere in their menus for their Tsokolate (hot chocolate):
- Crisostomo (Metro Manila)
- Cafe Adriatico (Metro Manila)
- Tsoko.Nut Batirol (Metro Manila)
- Tsokolateria (Quezon City, Tagaytay)
- Arroz Ecija (Metro Manila, Sta Rosa)
- Casa Roces (Manila)
- Restaurante Pia Y Damaso (Makati)
- Java Jazz Coffee (Tagaytay)