The History of chocolate The legend of chocolate as explained by Elaine Gonzalaz
Chocolate’s botanical history is dark and mysterious, rooted in ancient mythological tales. It is said that a "Feathered Serpent" god, took human form, descended to earth and presented the ancient people of Mexico with a gift from the garden of Paradise: the cacao tree. He showed them how to plant the tree, harvest the fruit, and prepare his favorite drink. He instructed the god of rain, to nourish the tree; the goddess of love, was told to adorn it with flowers and infuse it with her spirit.
Linnaeus, the great 18th century botanist, memorialized the legend by naming the tree Theobroma cacao L, “Food of the Gods,” from the Greek words theo (god) and broma (food). Many botanists believe that the first cacao trees grew wild in the Amazon basin or in the Orinoco Valley of South America. The domestication of the cacao tree, however, did not begin until it reached the lush tropical lowlands of Central America and southern Mexico over 3,000 years ago.
The Olmecs, were probably the first users of cacao. The chocolate legacy passed from the Olmecs to the Maya,. Cacao beans were so valued in ancient Mexico that the Maya and later (Toltec and Aztec) civilizations used them as currency to purchase small household items and pay for various services.
Some cacao beans were also sold in markets for consumption by the elite – the nobility, warriors and long- distance merchants. Today, vendors in markets all over Mexico sell cacao beans to those who still grind them at home. Montezuma, the great Aztec emperor, loved chocolate so much that he consumed 50 cups each day at his sumptuous 300-course banquets.
The Spanish quickly transformed Montezuma’s brew by heating it and adding ingredients they had brought with them to the New World: sugar, cinnamon, ground almonds, milk. This mestizo recipe is still used today in most of the Spanish-speaking world and in homes that preserve the old traditions.
While vacationing in Mexico I was introduced to the origins of Chocolate and the way they make fresh chocolate while you wait, with minimal processing and pure ingredients. Fascinated by it all, I could not stop thinking of bringing this ancient process back to the U.S.A. With a few bumps along the way I was able to educate myself, find the right equipment and set up shop. Learning every day and getting re- enthused often, Chiammaya is prospering and growing.
Thank you, I hope you enjoyed this brief presentation and I hope you enjoy the chocolate! Walt