A Brief History of Chocolate
Who doesn’t love chocolate? Probably, there are a few people in the world who don’t. Nevertheless, everyone would like to know about the bittersweet history of this ancient wonder. When many of us hear the word ‘chocolate‘, we picture a bar or a box of delectable delights in all shades of brown (or white). Furthermore, the verb that crosses everyone’s mind is ‘eat’ rather than ‘drink’. Additionally, if you need an adjective, you’d think ‘sweet’. Still, for 90 per cent of the history of chocolate, the word strictly implied a beverage, and sugar and sweetness had nothing whatsoever to do with it!
Words used in the world of chocolate have a lot to do with understanding its antecedents. The terminology may be confusing to some folks too. People use the word ‘cacao’ to refer to the plant or beans from which chocolate is extracted. The term ‘chocolate’, on the other hand, refers to anything that’s created from the beans. Then there’s the word ‘cocoa’. This commonly refers to chocolate in a form that’s powdered. It is also the British word for ‘cacao’.
The Origins of Chocolate
The history of chocolate goes back, by etymologists, to the ancient Aztec word ‘xocatl’, which referred to a bitter beverage made from cacao beans. In Latin, the term for the cacao tree, Theobroma Cacao, means ‘food of the Gods’. Modern historians believe that chocolate has been on earth for almost 2,000 years. Nonetheless, research in recent times states that it might be even older than this. The earliest evidence of chocolate documented from three or four millennia back runs into pre-Columbian culture like Olmec. The residue of the substance found on ancient pottery, dating back to 1,400 B.C.E., proves this. At this time, the sweet pulp surrounding the cacao bean was fermented to make an alcoholic beverage.
The Birth of Chocolate
Pinning down the actual birth of chocolate is hard for historians. The clear thing is that it was cherished and adored from the beginning of its discovery. In pre-modern Latin America, cacao beans had value enough to use as currency. For instance, according to Aztec historical documents, a single bean could be traded for a tamale, while 100 could get you a quality turkey hen. In addition, Mayan and Aztec cultures held beliefs that cacao had magical and divine qualities. Chocolate, in the form we have it today, the sweetened stuff, appeared only when Europeans modified it when they discovered the Americas.
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Mark Dubois grew up in a tiny village in the South of France where fresh ingredients, traditional recipes, and fantastic french wines are present in every house and corner. Chef Mark is specialised in Mediterranean Gastronomies, but he is more passionate about baking. Chef Mark is currently working as a hosted Chef in different restaurants around Europe.