It's a gray, rainy day in Mendoza. Unseasonably cold for March, the overcast sky offers a preview of what's to come in the next months. Our breath hangs in the air in front of us, like smoke cigarettes of so many passing Argentinos, as if hoping that roll of tobacco will warm them.
Though it showers sporadically, the day never improves. The cobblestones of Mendoza's peotonal (pedestrian mall) are slick and dark with rain. Low clouds make us want to stay inside under the covers, but with a toddler, this is impossible. So we trudge out to Bonafide, Argentina's famed coffee chain, and head to the upstairs lounge overlooking the mall. Low leather couches seat student types, one long-haired blond totes a guitar. They huddle in groups, chatting, staving off the cold with hot coffee and the warm words of their flirtations. The picture windows along the top floor give a bird's eye view of the peotonal--it would be the perfect place to people watch.
But one couple, obviously young and in love, wrapped in scarves and wool coats, have their back to the view. What they are so focused on, (other than gazing at each other) is the perfect liquid warmth of the cups sitting in front of them.
"What is that they're drinking?" I ask Guillermo, trying not to point at the pair too obviously.
"Those are submarinos!" he says with a grin. "We drank those all the time as kids!"
He couldn't explain fast enough.
"It's hot milk, served with a bar of chocolate on the side. Dark chocolate--it has to be dark chocolate!" he insisted. "That's the submarine! Then you take the submarine and you sink it! The chocolate melts, and you have hot chocolate. That's what they're drinking. Submarinos."
Describing it, Guillermo was transformed back into the excitable five year old who once enjoyed them on a cold day. And we sat, nestled as two and a half could be, indulging in our own submarinos while it rained away outside.
Submarinos--Argentinean Hot Chocolate
If you live in the Northern Hemisphere, where it is winter right now, this recipe will have real appeal. (Especially if you have a toddler!) Make as soon as possible and warm yourself up.
One mug of hot milk
portion of a bar of high-quality dark chocolate (I used Green and Black's)
To make the submarino:
Heat the milk to a drinkable temperature that's also warm enough to melt the chocolate. Insert the chocolate bar into the hot milk. Sink the submarine! And stir until the chocolate has melted and is incorporated into the milk. Enjoy with child-like glee.