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  • Writer's pictureLos Mexicanos

The History of Chocolate

Updated: Jul 5, 2022


Neither from Switzerland nor Europe, chocolate has been drunk in Mexico since pre-Hispanic times, but do you know the legend behind this delicacy?


Known around the world for its delicious taste, chocolate is undoubtedly the most famous food whose origins date back to pre-Hispanic times in present-day Mexico, but do you know the history and legend behind this delicious delicacy?





According to legend, Quetzalcoatl (the deity who plucked the hidden riches of the underworld) gave the Toltecs the cocoa beans, so that their people would be well fed and could be wise people, artists and craftsmen, by stealing the cocoa tree from the paradise where the gods lived and planting a small one in Tula (present-day Tula, state of Hidalgo).


After this, he asked Tlaloc to send rain to the earth so that the small cocoa tree could feed and grow.


Quetzalcoatl approached Xochiquétzal (Goddess of love and beauty) and asked her to provide the tree with beautiful flowers. As time passed, the Cacao tree blossomed, bearing its first fruits, thus giving the Toltec people the Cacao beans that Quetzalcoatl promised to the Toltecs.




Like many other things, cocoa in pre-Hispanic times was a symbol of wealth in much of Mesoamerica, so storing it, or drinking the chocolate (this version was prepared in hot water) was reserved for warriors or high society figures, and was also used on certain occasions for celebrations or rites.


At this time, cocoa was consumed mixed with zapote seeds and corn, prepared in portions that resembled small balls or pills, which were diluted in hot water and then given to the warriors.


Likewise, chocolate (xocolatl in Nahuatl) was prepared in different ways, one of them spicy, with the addition of achiote, a spicy fruit of a sacred plant associated with blood.




As mentioned before, being a symbol of wealth, the jícara in which it was served was often adorned with a spoon made of precious metals or wood.


Likewise, cocoa almonds were used as currency (means of payment) in ancient Tenochtitlán, and it is said that Moctezuma himself amassed a wealth of more than 100 million cocoa almonds.



With the arrival of the Spanish, chocolate found its way to Europe, arriving in 1828 in the hands of Coenraad Van Houten, who turned cacao into "Cocoa". By 1870, Daniel Peters came up with the idea of mixing cocoa with milk and sugar, creating the famous chocolate bars that we eat around the world today.






Source:

Ochoa, J. (s.d.). Chocolate, Historia y Leyenda. Obtenido de México Desconocido.: https://www.mexicodesconocido.com.mx/chocolate-historia-y-leyenda.html






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