History of Chocolate
The history of Chocolate is truly fabulous. There is no other food emerged from the meeting of two worlds and created by the union between the Gods and men.
In our Chocolate Museum we wanted to represent the most important moments in the spreading of chocolate through these watercolors, which, moreover, will serve to illustrate the History of Chocolate that we are preparing.
In the begining, when Gods descended to Earth, one of them, Quezalcoalt, according to Aztec mythology, made the cacao tree grow in the place where his mother’s blood had been spilled by her enemies, and gave it to men.
From that moment, the various Mesoamerican peoples passed their knowledge of the tree and its fruit from generation to generation. At the begining they only used to suck white flesh of cacao beans, ferment them to achieve an alcoholic drink, or press the beans to get cocoa butter, to use it as ointment or fuel.
In the III century BC the Mayans began to cultivate cocoa and use their beans to make a cold beverage with achiote, a natural red coloring, spices and maize. Later, the Aztecs would drink it hot.
But the discovery of the new worlds was the most important change, when a new era in this sweet story began. The first meeting of the Spanish with cocoa took place at the end of July, 1502, during the fourth voyage of Columbus, in the island of Guanaja, near Honduras. The brother of the Admiral was watching a 25 oarsmen canoe full of beans of cacao and other things, when he realized that they were very appreciated by the Indians, because when the beans fell into the water “the Indians tried to pick them up as if they had lost an eye”.
At first, the Spanish did not pay attention to cocoa, since they saw them as some ugly and bitter seeds. In fact Columbus does not mention them, only in 1520, we heard about cocoa in the Spanish Court thanks to Hernán Cortes.
But they soon decied to taste the ancient drink, especially when some nuns in Oaxaca added the sugar brought by the Spanish, to sweeten it. This was without doubt, our great contribution in this story, as consumption of cacao grew up among the Spanish of the new world and later, among the Europeans.
By other hand, according to tradition, the first recipe of chocolate was introduced in Spain by Friar Aguilar who sent it to his Cistercian colleagues of the Monasterio de Piedra, hence, the importance of monasteries in the elaboration of chocolate up to now. The last one to make it was the Monastery of Trapa, the Cistercian Abbey of San Isidro de Dueñas. Today, we are particularly proud to have them among our customers.
But the official presentation of cacao in Spain seems to be by Friar Bartolomé de Las Casas who, accompanied by some Indians in his journey to the Court, introduced himself to the young king Felipe II. And, it was in Seville, the main port to the Indies, where the first shipment of cacao came from Veracruz into Europe in 1585.
At the end of the XVIII century, consumption of chocolate had spread in such a way that it is mentioned in a manuscript about Madrid, where it cna be read how chocolate was sold in street markets and all kinds of shops.
However, the spred of cacao into Europe, despite the news given from travelers, began when the Spanish princesses Ana of Austria and her niece María Teresa, as they married Louis XIII and Louis XIV, introduced the habit of drinking chocolate in the French Court. Chocolate got also into Europe through the old Spanish colonies in Italy, where people adopted the aristocracy customs.
Centuries later, with the industrial revolution, great factories were built so that the recipe of chocolate became considerably cheaper. In 1875, the birth of chocolate milk made it so popular that people could not only drink it but eat delicious chocolate bars or luscious chocolate bonbons. However, this is another story that we will tell you at another time…