CHOCOLATE’S OWN CHAPTERS IN HISTORY . . .
- The Aztecs had an affinity for a chocolate drink they called xocolatl, which meant “warm liquid,” as reported by Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez. They also used chocolate as face paint in their religious ceremonies. Wicker baskets filled with cocoa beans were among the gifts offered to the Conquistadores by the Aztecs.
- The ancient Mayan people left picture stories depicting Gods in religious rituals, and cacao pods were often a part of those pictures, indicating the Mayans believed chocolate to be appropriate food for their Gods.
- As the sixteenth century came to an end, the daily wage of a hard-working Guatemalan man in the province of Verapaz was forty cocoa beans.
- Once processed exclusively by hand, the recent past has seen the invention of numerous pieces of equipment that made preparing chocolate for consumption so much easier. A rock/marble slab and rolling pin were used to grind cocoa beans (and corn, too!) in Mexico. In use for over a thousand years, it is still found in many South-of-the-border kitchens. (The actual equipment is called a Matate y Mano, while the technique is called piedra de moler.) A Melanger grinds cocoa nibs into chocolate liqueur. Antique Melangers took about a day to complete a batch. Modern ones perform that task in minutes.
- A newer invention was the Le Whif, an inhalable aerosol chocolate that would allow us to get our chocolate fix without the calories. Inventor Professor David Edwards of Harvard University blessed us with three flavors — mint, raspberry and plain. In my opinion, it’s alright in a crisis, but I’ll take mine by mouth, thank you.
- Good news! Participants in studies consistently find it easier to perform difficult mental arithmetic-type problems after consuming large amounts of flavanols — like those found in chocolate!
For those of you who thought you found a typo above:
- COCOA is correct when referring to beans, nibs, pickers and shells.
- CACAO is correct when referring to trees, pods and plantations.
This Month’s Heavenly Chocolate Selection From Your Favorite Chocolate of the Month Club:
NUTTY BUDDY CENTER PIECES ARE DARK CHOCOLATE COVERED ALMOND TOFFEE
OUTER PIECES ARE MILK CHOCOLATE WITH A MOCHA MOUSSE CENTER AND HAZELNUT PRALINE COVERED IN WHITE CHOCOLATE