Chocolate: Food of the Gods
Chocolate, the rich, dark treat loved by millions worldwide, originated in the Amazon thousands of years ago. Originally discovered by the Mayans, its use eventually spread throughout the Americas, eventually extending up in Mexico and the Aztec Empire. The Aztecs actually believed that the Cacao plant, source of the Cacao beans from which chocolate is derived, was created by their feathered-serpent god Quetzlcoatl.
To them Cacao beans were literally the food of the gods. Cacao beans were so highly prized, that at one time they were used as a form of currency. When the conquistadors arrived in the Americas, and then returned to Spain from the New World in the 16th century, they introduced chocolate to the Western world. With that, a love affair with this sweet treat was born.
In the Modern Era
Chocolate in its modern form really took off in North America in the 20th century. Prior to this period, chocolate was an extremely expensive commodity limited to those who were well-off. If you love your Hershey’s Kisses and chocolate bars, then you can thank Milton S. Hershey for making it affordable to the masses. After adapting the Swiss milk chocolate-making process and coming up with his recipe in 1900, people in the United States joined in the chocolate-craze.
Milk chocolate is very popular in the United States today, but the dark variety has been picking up in popularity these days, mostly fueled by reports that say that the darker it is, the more anti-oxidants it has. Unfortunately, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it will taste better. As a matter of fact, the higher the cacao percentage, the more bitter (and possibly less palatable) it will be.
Give a Few Words of Thanks
Look around your house today, and chances are that you will have something stashed away in the refrigerator or a cupboard containing cocoa. What would your life be like without that pint of Haagen Dazs? Speaking of which, they actually do have a special Mayan Chocolate version out, if you want to get a taste of what it was like during ancient times.
It is actually possible to find various recipes for chocolatl and get modern interpretations of the ancient beverage favored by the Aztec and Maya. If you do a Google search for chocolatl recipes, you should be able to find several, some of which are either original or creative interpretations. Just be sure to give a few words of thanks to the ancient peoples who discovered this treat and passed it on to us.