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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Chocolate drinks

The first people known to consume the cacao beans were the Olmec, who lived in what is today southern Mexico. They fermented, dried, and ground the beans into a chocolate paste using a stone metate. They then mixed the paste with water and spices to create a rich—though bitter—chocolate drink.

The Olmec were followed by the Maya (of present-day Guatemala, Belize, and Yucatán Peninsula), and then the Toltec and Aztec of central Mexico. Each civilization valued the drink of the cacao bean. Between 1375 and 1521 Aztecs melted cocoa into a bitter drink, probably drunk cold with spices. Cocoa beans were given to priest's assistants at children's coming of age ceremonies. During marriage ceremonies, the couple drank a symbolic cup of chocolate and exchanged cocoa beans. Aztecs believed that drinking chocolate gave mortals some of Quetzalcoatl's (God of learning and of the wind) wisdom.

In 1585 in Oaxaca, Mexico, nuns in a convent mixed sugar with cocoa and consumed it hot and sweet, as a drink.

By the 17th century, chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout Europe, believed to have nutritious, medicinal and even aphrodisiac properties (it's rumored that Casanova was especially fond of the stuff).

Like Mesoamericans, the first chocolate-drinkers in Europe mixed their chocolate with vanilla, xochinacaztli—flowers nicknamed orejuelas or “little ears” by the Spanish for their ear-shapes, mecaxóchitl, and achiote. Like Mesoamericas, Europeans valued “foam” on chocolate—perhaps the antecedent to the contemporary custom of putting marshmallows in hot chocolate.

But it remained largely a privilege of the rich until the invention of the steam engine made mass production possible in the late 1700s.
Chocolate drinks

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