Chocolate: Food of the Gods

Chocolate: Food of the Gods

The cocoa tree is native of tropical America and for a long time it has marked the history of the native populations living in the tropical lowlands of south-central Mexico. The tree was considered from the ancient Amerindian societies a gift of the gods and the its name in Olmec language was "kakawa". It had a big economic and religious value.

The Maya introduced the cultivation of the kakawa in the Yucatán and they used the seeds for their rituals of prosperity, baptism or marriage. The beans were considered a magic medicine, able to recover every physical and mental illness. During the rituals the cocoa was offered to the divinities, mixed with incense or with blood of the priests. The cocoa beans became the base of the Maya monetary system.

The Maya made a drink with the kakawa beans, called xocoatl. The beans were toasted and crushed, then mixed with water and eventually other thickener like flour of corn or the honey. Very often the xocoalt was flavoured with chilli-pepper or vanilla or pepper. The particularity of this drink was the foam. The foam was gotten decanting the xocoalt in a few different containers. Besides the Maya with the cocoa produced the pasol say small little balls of cocoa pastry mixing with corn flour. These little balls were melted in the warm water to obtain an energy drink and they were an ideal strengthening food for the trips.

The kakawa beans were used also by the Mexica, say the Aztecs, like the Maya. An Aztecs legend told by the god Quetzalcòatl, the feathered snake, gave the cocoa beans and the tree grew with the blood of a princess. The princess was abandoned by her lover. He was left to fight in far lands, but before he had donated to her princess an immense treasure. When the enemies came, the princess refused to reveal the hideaway of the treasure preferring the death to the betrayal. From her blood the tree of the cocoa was grew. These beans are bitter like the suffering, but at the same time strong like the virtue and red like the blood. In the cocoa beans and in this legend are contained the values of the Aztec civilization.  

The drink of the Mexica had called cacahuatl, by the combination of the words Maya, chacau haa, water of cocoa, and otherwise the Maya, these preferred to consume it cold or to room temperature. The consumption was reserved to a innermost circle, composed of emperor, aristocrats, warriors and merchants. The people could not take pleasure in cacahuatl drink, except the men called to the weapons, that could drink the cacahuatl during the marches for his energetic and stimulating virtues.

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