Monday, September 1, 2008

Hot Chocolate and The Mayans


No, the title above is not paying tribute to the latest band....

I have recently been reading a lot about the ancient indigenous peoples of the Americas! From North, Central to South, the native peoples of these lands have contributed more to the modern day world than one might lend them credit for. In Anthropologist Jack Weathorford’s book, INDIAN GIVERS, so many of these contributions are revealed--- And in the case of food in the modern world, some 60%, has had Native American origin. One such food happens to be a favorite of almost everyone, and that is, Chocolate!

The chocolate confection the world enjoys today finds its roots in Central America’s Mayan culture. The Mayan culture, much like the Mound Building cultures of North America, is truly one of the world’s most under-explored fascinating ones! Their much savored chocolate beverage’s main ingredient comes from the cacao plant‘s fruit, ‘cacao‘--a much prized and traded commodity in the ancient Mayan world.

The Mayans made the first ‘hot chocolate drink’ -- a thick and bitter/spicy beverage--made from the crushed dried roasted beans of the fruit of the cacao plant--by adding water, vanilla, cinnamon, chilies and other flavorings. This beverage was usually consumed for reasons such as “rites of passage-birth, marriage, induction into the priesthood and even entry into the afterlife” according to an article in National Geographic Magazine’s special collectors edition (August ‘08) showcasing the Mayan culture

After I read this edition, I searched the internet for a recipe that would as closely as possible mimic this first chocolate drink consumed by the Mayans. There were several bits of information about this drink available.....and then I suddenly stumbled across the recipe in the link I will include below on this page. There is so much to learn about Indigenous peoples of the America’s cultures like the Mayan’s besides chocolate alone! So, as you learn, you may want to take a break and gather up the ingredients for their sacred drink---and enjoy it as they did! I tried this recipe and it is wonderful!


http://www.kstrom.net/isk/food/r_choc.html



Illustration: Mayan Jade Mask-Pencil Drawing by R.S.C.

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