History of Chocolate
HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE
WHERE DID CHOCOLATE ORIGINATE FROM ?
Let us start our journey about 3000 years ago, to the times of the ancient Olmecs who inhabited the land of today’s Mexico. The warm and humid land was ideal to grow the sensitive cocoa trees and it was the Olmecs who discovered and appreciated the wonderful taste of cocoa. Linguists have found the roots of the word ‘cocoa’ in the local language of those days. This means that cocoa trees were grown as early as the 10th century BC, but some studies have shown that these wondrous beans could date back even further in time.
“What you see before you, my friend, is the result of a lifetime of chocolate.”
CHOCOLATE IS THE HOLY POTION
It was the Aztecs who adapted and continued the tradition of the holy potion which they called “xocolatl” (bitter water). For them the bitter sharp potion became a source of wisdom and energy, an aphrodisiac and a soothing balsam. The potion was made of cocoa beans and mixed with warm or cold water. Such spices as chili, corn or honey were added to enhance the flavor. It is fair to say today’s society would not enjoy the cocoa potion the ancient Aztecs created.
Fun Fact: Aztecs Indians believed chocolate to be an aphrodisiac.
DRUNK ON CHOCOLATE?
When Herman Cortez arrived with his army, he was surprised by the worshiping of the cocoa potion by the Aztecs. They had a custom related to the growing ceremony of the holy trees. This practice was combined with sexual abstinence for thirteen days and ended with the tribe engaging together in a love coupling, where the cocoa potion was drunk in abundance. When king Montezuma II told the Spanish soldiers that he would never make love without drinking “xocolatl”, all the Spaniards extended their cups to get some. Most of them drank it with grimaces and tears in their eyes.
“Happiness. Simple as a glass of chocolate or tortuous as the heart. Bitter. Sweet. Alive.”-Joanne Harris, The film Chocolat
CHOCOLATE IS ACTUALLY GOOD FOR YOU?
Chocolate today is available in a wide range of styles and flavors. Some varieties contain caramel, nuts or dried fruit. But what of the suggested health benefits? Since cocoa comes from plants and is natural, it offers a few health benefits. For example Tooth decay can be prevented from antibacterial agents found in chocolate. The fragrance has been known to enhances brain waves which assist in relaxation and elevates the mood by the embedded ingredient phenylethylamine. Chocolate is a rich source of vitamins and minerals. This consists of vitamins A, B1, C and E as well as iron, calcium and potassium. Chocolate also contains high amounts of magnesium and phosphorus which is important for the teeth and bone formation in children.
“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”
-Charles M. Schulz