Apparently pumpkin spice everything is a fall-thing in these United States. Allow me to go on record to say that I only have a really vague idea on what pumpkin spice (it's not like the flavor of pumpkin right?) is and absolutely no idea as to why you would put it on a latte, let alone anything else.
And while I'm spouting my dubious truths about American culture, allow me to puzzle over why it is that you people decided to stick the two most important food holidays of the year within a month of each other? It seriously takes away from both. Wouldn't it be so much more fun if there was a big food fest in the dreary late-winter months? I mean I'm all stoked on having some sort of acknowledgement for the harvest and Solstice, even if it's rather token, but boy, could there be a little more originality in the food department? Sometimes, it seems folks even seem to serve the exact same meal at both of these occasions. The whole pre-Christmas holiday season thing, that so tightly ties into the pumpkin spice craze, has so far caught me by surprise every fall. What? It's Halloween? Wait which Thursday is Thanksgiving again?
I hope this inability to appreciate all things pumpkin and my disdain for the fact that Thanksgiving and Christmas seem to only be separated by the rampant consumerism of one and the widespread misreading of history of the other, doesn't render me ineligible to become a patriotic American someday...
So, like most first generation immigrants I'll just stick to my own backward old-world customs. There's this thing, you guys, that my people call "hot coco", made from the native cocoa bean of Finland, and I like to add delicious indigenous Finnish spices like cinnamon and cayenne pepper.
An honest to goodness recipe? One of the reasons I hardly ever post recipes, even though I love to cook and make at least one, or two meals a day from scratch, is that I never really use recipes and usually don't make the same thing twice the same way.
Every fall and sometimes in the winter though, if I have access to fresh milk, I make this hot, spicy drinking chocolate. Which by the way, is an entirely "new world" drink. (By the way Charles C. Mann has some interesting things to say about where the "old" and "new" worlds might be located. I highly recommend his book 1491 if you're interested in "American" history. )
Heat a cup and a half of milk (I used goat milk from some "American Alpine Goats") on the stove. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of coco powder. Yeah, that's right, you heard me, this is drinking chocolate, you want it to be thick and oozy. I use a lighter and a darker coco powder with emphasis on the light, 'cos you know, I'm European. Stir vigorously. Add 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/8 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
Drink outside while you wait for the sun to warm the air to a short-sleeves temperature.
While I'm not really that into drinking milk, it seems like the warming spices and the mood-balancing cacao more than outweigh any imbalance it might create. And then there's the uplifting effect of total deliciousness to consider too.
Oh and Happy "Columbus" day everyone! If you go out to sea today try not honor him by getting totally bugf***ing lost like he did, 'k?