The mystical origins of Chocolate

The mystical origins of Chocolate

The mystical origins of Chocolate

The history of chocolate began in Central America. Evidence suggests that it may have been fermented and served as an alcoholic beverage as early as 1400 BC. The word "chocolate" comes from the Aztec word "xocoatl". Theobroma cacao, the scientific name for the tree that cocoa and chocolate are made from, means “Food of the Gods”.

Since sweeteners were rarely used by Maya, they flavored their cacao paste with additives like flowers, vanilla pods, and chilies. The vessel used to serve this chocolate liquid was stubbier by nature to help froth the liquid better, which was very important to the Maya. The vessels also tended to be decorated in intricate designs and patterns, which tended to only be accessible by the rich. There were many uses for cacao among the Mayans. It was used in official ceremonies and religious rituals, at feasts and festivals, as funerary offerings, as a tribute, and for medicinal purposes.

The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, and the seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency. Originally prepared only as a drink, chocolate was served as a bitter liquid, mixed with spices or corn puree. The Aztecs drank chocolate cold. It was consumed for a variety of purposes, as an aphrodisiac or as a treat for men after banquets, and it was also included in the rations of Aztec soldiers. In the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries, Aztecs used cocoa beans as cash in the marketplace. A single bean could buy a little food and a few hundred beans could buy a one-pound gold statue.

Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés may have been the first European to encounter chocolate when he observed it in the court of Montezuma in 1519. After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, chocolate was imported to Europe. In the beginning, Spaniards would use it as a medicine to treat illnesses such as abdominal pain because it had a bitterness to it. Once sweetened, it transformed. It quickly became a court favorite. It was still served as a beverage, but the addition of sugar or honey counteracted the natural bitterness. The Spaniards initially intended to recreate the original taste of the Mesoamerican chocolate by adding similar spices, but this habit had faded away by the end of the eighteenth century. Within about a hundred years, chocolate established a foothold throughout Europe.

Belgium's association with chocolate goes back as far as 1635, when the country was under Spanish occupation shortly after the chocolate had been brought to Europe from Mesoamerica. By the mid-18th century, chocolate had become extremely popular in upper and middle-class circles, particularly in the form of hot chocolate.

Zago’s rich and creamy dark Chocolate Shot carries forward the legacy of drinking chocolate. This preservative-free mouthful of intense indulgence is crafted from cocoa straight out of Belgium’s oldest roastery. Designed to be drunk, not eaten as people have done for centuries.

 
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