Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Chocolate: Tales from the dark side

Americans tend to think of chocolate as a sweet candy heralded by companies like Hershey and Nestle; but actually, chocolate dates back to the ancient peoples of Mesoamerica who drank chocolate as a bitter drink much like we drink coffee. Baristas of the day were royal court staff and no where could you find half & half, soy milk or sugar but rather chocolate infused with ground chile thickened with corn meal or steeped with vanilla pods and honey then beaten until frothy. Cacao beans grew only in the rain forests of what is now the southern most highlands of Mexico and Central America the empire of the ancient Maya. They were highly prized by the Aztecs who couldn’t grow them in their arid plateaus and their addiction to the drink created a fruitful trade between the two empires. By the time the conquistadores came on the scene the Aztec elite were drinking several quarts of xocolatl per day and cacao beans were the preferred currency. Over a century later European upper crust got their fix in chocolate houses that began popping up in the late1600’s and became salons of political and religious discussion. Due to this threat, the church named chocolate the Devil’s food.

With Valentines Day quickly approaching in the throes of the Catholic Lenten season, I say cast those resolutions to the wind and lay with the Devil for one day!


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