This piece originally appeared on Needsupply.com.
Though it has yet to catch on in much of the non-Spanish speaking world, atole—a hearty, versatile, old-fashioned standard—is a must for your winter food arsenal. It is a cold-weather and breakfast mainstay from southern Colorado to Chile with far-reaching cultural currency: curanderas (and abuelas) swear by it, and it remains a common folk remedio for whatever ails you. It makes for both a fantastic, filling breakfast and a soothing anytime warm drink that’s healthier than hot cocoa and heartier than any tea.
Atole comes in dozens of localized varieties, differentiated by types of corn and spices. It is prepared much like a simple polenta, but is generally served sweet instead of savoury and is much more liquid and drinkable. Often it is eaten alongside tamales, and in Mexico it is commonly combined with chocolate to make for a variety called champurrado. (Try it once. You’ll never drink marshmallow hot chocolate again.)