Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Drink of Gods: Chocolate drinks in ancient times

The history of chocolate began with the Maya, who were probably the first people in South America to cultivate the cocoa plant. Iconographic works and fragments, writings and remnants in the pottery suggest that cacao was prepared in beverage form at least as early as 600 B.C.

The beans were highly prized and used as money as well as to produce a drink known as chocolatl. The beans were roasted in earthenware pots and crushed between stones, sometimes using decorated heated tables ad mill stones.

They could then be kneaded into cakes, which could be mixed with cold water to make a drink. In Mesoamerica, cacao was prepared only as a beverage. It was a very precious substance and, therefore, reserved for priests, highest government officials, military officers and great warriors, and it was supposed to be unsuitable for women and children.

Vanilla, spices or honey were often added and the drink whipped to make it frothy. The vanilla enhances the richness of the cacao, and there is no sugar to mask the natural flavors. It was called the “Food of the Gods” and was presented at the table of Emperor Moctezuma II by the Aztecs. The Aztec Emperor was said to have drink 50 jars of this beverage per day.

Cocoa appeared in Europe in 1528, when the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés brought samples of cocoa to King Charles of Spain, spreading the great effects of the beverage prepared from this “brown gold”.

By 1650, a chocolate beverage, unrecognizable from the indigenous brew, was being consumed throughout Europe, served in the same manner as coffee and tea.
Drink of Gods: Chocolate drinks in ancient times

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