Chocolates – Adding Flavor to Mexican Life
Sweet and bitter are two things you can say about chocolates. Chocolates are made from the seed of the Theobroma cacao tree. These delectable delights have gone a long way from just the Nuahtl word “xocolatl” or bitter water in English, into what we know today.
The Aztecs of Mexico considered hot chocolate drink as a sacred drink. They believed that their god, Quetzalcoatl, came down from heaven carrying a stolen cacao tree from paradise. They also believed that their god, Huitzilopochtli, told them that a Crested Caracara perched on top of a cactus eating a snake will be the site where they will build their city. This legend is clearly seen on the Mexican flag.
The Aztecs did not know sugar then, they used different spices to add flavor to their sacred drink; including hot chili peppers. They believed that eating the fruit of the cocoa tree will give them wisdom and power. It also has nourishing and fortifying qualities, not to mention an aphrodisiac too. Montezuma, the Aztec emperor, drank his thick chocolate dyed red. It was so famous that it was served in golden goblets which were thrown after one usage. He loved it so much that he had fifty goblets each day.
These famous and revered beans were also used as currency, similar to how gold bars are now. It was so expensive that only the upper class could partake of it. Priests served cacao beans and chocolate beverages during ceremonies. A funny thing about the history of the chocolate is that the first time Christopher Columbus brought these dark brown beans to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the beans did not get their attention.
Its exclusivity changed when Hernando Cortez conquered a part of Mexico. His first intention was to “cultivate” money for Spain, but it turned out to be a transformation of the bitter beverage into a delicacy. Chocolate then became Spain’s secret for almost a hundred years.
It was the year 1674 when everything about chocolate changed. A coffee house called The Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll, served chocolate in cakes and in rolls – Spanish style. The hullabaloo about the chocolate soon spread like wild fire. In 1755, America decides to take a closer look at this wonder of the world. Ten years later, the first chocolate factory in the United States is born.
The chocolate has gone down, or shall I say, rolled its way into history; a delectable delight for the young and old.