Sparkling, bitter and spicy, that's how chocolate was eaten in America

This drink, prepared by the Mayans and Aztecs with the seed of the fruit of the cacao tree, was used in religious ceremonies.

The presentation and flavor of the chocolate that the Mayans and Aztecs drank in the XNUMXth century was very different from what we are used to today. It was sparkling, bitter and sometimes pungent.

It was made neither with milk nor with sugar, the main ingredients used today for its preparation, and it was mixed with water and flavored with spices that were only found in Central America, such as aromatic flowers, vanilla, chile or hot pepper, wild honey and achiote or onoto.

The Milanese Girolamo Benzoni, author of the book the History of the New World, of 1564, thus described the way in which the Mayans and Aztecs elaborated the "original chocolate".

“They collect the grains and put them on mats to dry; later, when they want them to drink, they roast them over the fire in a clay pot and grind them with the stones they use to prepare bread. Finally, they put the paste in bowls (...) and mixing it little by little with water, sometimes adding a little of its spices, they drink it, although it seems more suitable for pigs than for men.

Cover of the book History of the New World by Girolamo Benzoni.

Regarding its taste, Benzoni described it as somewhat bitter, but refreshing, adding that the "Indians esteem it above all else, where they are accustomed to it."

While Bernal Díaz del Castillo, one of the officers of Hernan Cortes, described a banquet, which he witnessed in 1519, of the Aztec emperor Moctezuma thus:

“They brought him fruit of all that was on earth, but he ate only very little. From time to time they brought some like cups of fine gold with a certain drink made of the same cocoa; They said that it was to have access to women (...) but what I saw was that they brought over fifty large jugs, made of good cocoa with its foam, and he drank from that, and the women served him when he drank with great respect”.

How was chocolate eaten in Venezuela?

In Venezuela, chocolate began to be eaten in the haciendas cocoa plantations during colonial times.

The slaves and workers of these haciendas dissolved the cocoa in water and served it in totuma. It was known as cerrero, they didn't add sugar or any other sweetener.

However, a more elaborate preparation was the chorote, which could replace lunch and dinner both in the countryside and in the cities.

  • Text elaborated with information from the books La Cocina y los Alimentos by Harold MacGee and Comer en Venezuela by Miro Popic

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