Tsokolate eh and Tsokolate ah | What is the big difference?

newly prepared hot chocolate

For now, let us cut the long introduction and get straight to the point. Both terms Tsokolate eh and tsokolate ah are hot drink made by boiling chocolate and water. It is not from popular brands (Toblerone, Ferrero Rocher, Cadbury, M&M etc..) but from the natively made tsokolate tabliya. Pure chocolate, the old style, which still very popular until now. The Spaniards influence has been pegged down deep to foundation of our culture.

newly prepared hot chocolate

So what is the difference between the two besides a and e. I seldom hear both but whenever I do, my mind flies back to my highschool days. My teacher was discussing it but I understood it vaguely. I think it was also one of test questions that I was not able to answer. What a troublesome guy! I did ask it to my elderly and they never know it either. I was not alone!

This was explained in the book of Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Noli Me Tangere, Chapter XI The Rulers. Thanks to gutenburg.org (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/6737/6737-h/6737-h.htm) who provided the online English translation.

Here is the quote:

“Are you going over to the convento to visit the sanctimonious rascal there, the little curate? Yes! Well, if he offers you chocolate which I doubt—but if he offers it remember this: if he calls to the servant and says, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, eh!’ then stay without fear; but if he calls out, ‘Juan, make a cup of chocolate, ah!’ then take your hat and leave on a run.”

“What!” the startled visitor would ask, “does he poison people? Carambas!”

“No, man, not at all!”

“What then?”

“‘Chocolate, eh!’ means thick and rich, while ‘chocolate, ah!’ means watered and thin.”

But we are of the opinion that this was a slander on the part of the alferez, since the same story is told of many curates. At least, it may be a thing peculiar to the Order.

We Filipinos tagalized the word “chocolate” to “tsokolate” and mentained the extension “eh” or “ah”. I dug a Spanish-English dictionary and found nothing special. Those are just expressions, like “a la eh” and “hindi ah”. Those are signs instructing the maid to prepare either of chocolate drinks without explicitly informing the visitor which type he would recieved.

Today… the eh and ah are meaningless. We often look on brand and convince ourselves it is of good quality.






One Comment

  • The difference is on what ‘e’ and ‘a’ stand for. ‘E’ is for ‘espeso’, which means thick, while ‘a’ is for ‘aguado’, which means watery. (agua = water). It reveals the difference on how a guest is given importance by a host during Noli Me Tangere times. Hope that helps : )

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