Chocolate - Food of the gods

These days, chocolate is a popular dessert and every holiday that comes is another excuse to eat chocolate in various shapes and forms. Without it, there would be no s'mores or brownies, and a hot fudge sundae would just be vanilla ice cream with a cherry on top. But what many people don't know is that chocolate actually started out as a bitter drink.

Chocolate comes from the beans of the cacao plant, it should not be confused with cacao, which is the powdered form of chocolate. The actual word "chocolate" is believed to have evolved from the Aztec word "zocotl", the name of a bitter drink made from cocoa beans. The cacao tree is called theobroma cacao in Latin, which means "food of the gods."

Chocolate is believed to have been around for two thousand years; However, recently discovered evidence suggests that its construction dates back to 1900 BC. What is in Mexico now? Pottery excavated in Honduras containing traces of cocoa remains dating back to 1400 BC.

Ancient Mesoamericans, which included the Olmec, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations, grinded the beans and fermented and roasted them before making a paste. That paste was then made with water, honey, vanilla and various spices. The chocolate drink made by him was believed to have spiritual properties as it had mood-enhancing properties. As a result, the Mayans worshiped the god of cacao and chocolate was considered divine, only to be consumed by rulers, warriors, priests, and nobles during sacred ceremonies of birth, marriage, and death. During the sacrifice, victims who were too depressed to engage in ritual dance before their death would drink a gourd of chocolate mixed with the blood of previous victims to improve their spirits.

During the fourteenth century, the Aztecs took control of much of Mesoamerica. Because the center of their civilization was in the arid highlands of Mexico, they were unable to grow cocoa beans themselves. Instead, he started trading with the Mayans for them. He valued cocoa beans so much that he used them as currency, with a turkey hen worth a hundred beans. On the other hand, a tamarind was only worth one bean. Many claim that the sixteenth-century Aztec ruler Montezuma drank gallons of chocolate every day because he thought it would increase his libido. According to legend, the Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, was greeted by Montezuma, who included him a chocolate drink with a banquet for a god. Instead of returning with the silver and gold they had come to Mexico for, the explorers returned with chocolate.

But chocolate was not an instant hit to European explorers, one of whom described it as a "bitter drink for pigs". However, they soon discovered that they could make it taste better by adding cane sugar and cinnamon. After that, it quickly took hold and, due to the expense of importing it, became a symbol of wealth as only the elite could afford it. However, it was a well-kept secret by Spain until the marriage of the daughter of King Philip III of Spain to King Louis XIII of France in 1615. Later, its popularity spread throughout Europe and it was believed to have nutritional and medicinal properties. But it remained a luxury only for the wealthy until the invention of the steam engine in the eighteenth century.

In 1828, Dutch chemist Koenrad Johannes van Houten invented the cocoa press, which would remove cocoa butter from roasted beans and then grind the residue into a fine powder. The powder, known as Dutch cocoa, can then be mixed with liquids and other ingredients and poured into molds. This resulted in the formation of solid chocolate. It also reduced production costs, thus making chocolate more affordable. In 1847, Joseph Fry J.S. of the British Chocolate Company. Fry & Sons created the first chocolate bar in Dutch cocoa by adding cocoa butter and sugar back to it. By 1868, Cadbury was on the scene selling boxes of chocolate candies and Nestle followed a few years later with the introduction of milk chocolate. In 1879, Rodolf Lindt invented the concoction machine, which improved texture and flavor by making it smoother and creamier.

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