Chocolate is most popular and lovable sweet in the world. When most of us hear the word ‘chocolate’, we feel happy but its not only the sensuous food that make people happy, it has a rich history. It was first consumed for medicinal purposes. After that it has become a popular food due to its seductive taste. We all know chocolate is typically sweet, brown bar but it was actually consumed as a bitter beverage rather than a sweet treat.
Almost 4000 years ago, the ancient Mesoamerican who first cultivated cacao plants, found it in the tropical rainforest of central America. Chocolate was prepared from the cacao beans of the “Theobroma cacao” tree. It was an important foodstuff in Mayan and Aztec culture.
The Aztec believed that cacao seeds were the “gift of god”. The origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “chocolatl” which was referred to as a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The Aztecs and Mayas used drinking cup and plates exclusively for the “chocolatl” drink.
It was strictly bitter beverage and sugars didn’t have any thing to do with it. Drink were made from white pulp around the seeds of the cocoa pod. The Beans were used to make hot and cold chocolate drinks. Maya and Aztec made drinks used roasted cacao beans, toasted corn and water. Vanilla and chili were also used as an ingredients in the drink.
Cacao beans served as a prized beverage and also a form of money. Chocolate played a very important role as currency in Mayan and Aztec culture. One cacao bean could be traded for a tamale. 10 beans could buy a rabbit or a prostitute 100 beans could purchase a good turkey hen or a slave. The beans were still used as currency in part of Latin America until 19th century.
The Maya also used chocolate in religious rituals. Sometimes its took the place of blood. It was used in marriage ceremony, were it was exchanged by the bride. They even had a cacao god!