The aroma of hot chocolate in the air, rich with cinnamon, butter and perhaps a splash of brandy, brings with it the spirit of Christmas in Peru. Hot chocolate is a traditional part of celebrating Christmas throughout the country. Although people in northern climates associate hot chocolate with cold weather, the Christmas season falls in the height of Peru’s summer. Peruvians drink the steaming hot beverage during the warmest time of year. People gather for “chocolatadas,” where hot chocolate, panettone and other sweets are served to guests.
Chocolatada has a special meaning at Christmas. In the spirit of giving, those more fortunate host a chocolatada for those less well-off. Throughout the country, people are treated to a Christmas celebration that includes a warm, rich cup of chocolate milk, sweets and gifts. This Christmas giving is undertaken by individuals, schools, non-governmental organizations and churches that host chocolatadas in their communities as well as in remote communities that may not have the resources to sponsor one themselves. In Cuzco, the event is so popular that people come from the countryside a day early and sleep in the streets to receive the early morning treat of hot chocolate and panettone.
Special chocolatadas are held for children, who receive the rich chocolate drink along with other Peruvian food offerings, usually sweets and a piece of chicken. Gifts and entertainment come after the food. Children make special decorations and put on dancing and singing performances for those attending. A special treat is the appearance of a clown to thrill the young ones with tricks, juggling and wacky acts. The last day of school before the Christmas holidays is usually set aside for the chocolatada, which often commemorates graduation to the next class.
Guests of La Costanera Restaurant can enjoy the chocolate offerings made by native Peruvian chef Carlos Altamirano. Desserts rich with chocolate accented with cinnamon and spices evoke the spirit of a Peruvian Christmas. Chocolate lava cake, alfajores and churros with chocolate de la olla are just a few of the traditional desserts served at this Peruvian restaurant. Come and indulge in a Peruvian-flavored Christmas celebration this year at La Costanera Restaurant just south of San Francisco overlooking beautiful Montara Bay.