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The True History Of Chocolate Essay

1093 words - 5 pages

Chocolate became “a respected scholarly subject” only in recent decades suffering from “puritanical prohibitions” of discussing food or writing about it that were recognized standards of behavior in the Western world. The reviewed book The True History of Chocolate is a valuable addition to what the public knows or, rather, does not know about chocolate, with an interesting historical background that makes an entertaining and useful reading and extends one’s knowledge of things we use daily, sometimes without realizing their long history of evolution and multiple meanings.
The word “cacao” and the first data concerning these valuable beans were derived by Europeans who came to the new ...view middle of the document...

659). The Maya used chocolate without adding sugar. Drinks were served both as cold and hot and also used as an important trade item in commodity exchanges. Cacao had immense social prestige and its beans were used as currency. Sacred chocolate drinks were an important part of Maya rituals.
The first encounter of Europeans with cacao was during Columbus’ fourth expedition to America. A large Maya trading canoe was captured and Europeans found strange “almonds”, among other commodities, on it. The first impression of the chocolate on the conquistadors was definitely negative, although started use such a by-product as cacao butter for culinary purposes. Step by step, Spaniards who at first felt only aversion to indigenous food started to incorporate it into their daily use. They made certain adjustments when using strange kinds of food and chocolate beverages started to be served hot and sweetened with cane sugar. Spices other than pepper, those preferred by Europeans were added to the beverage. The name of the drink that became known to Spaniards probably came into European languages from the Nahuatl local language. The true discovery of chocolate by the Europeans took place during the Renaissance periods and later, at the Baroque era, it grew in popularity immensely and was served to the European nobility. Chocolate was appreciated as an important medical drug having stimulating qualities. Solid chocolate became an important innovation although the first experiments with were started in Mexico by Spanish nuns. From Spanish courts, chocolate spread to lands of other European rulers where it was sometimes even used, due to its strong taste, to mask poisons.
The Europeans invented different ways of using and producing chocolate. The French introduced the chocolate pot and also experimented with different recipes of chocolate. The craze of chocolate drink in the European courts of the 17th century demanded more and more of the cacao beans, and its production became dependent on the slave work in the colonies. Different European agents including the Spanish Crown and Jesuits as well as various European merchants tried to control the cacao production and trade in the colonies. Cacao lands were established in the Amazonian and other regions; the Caracas cacao groves where slaves worked supplied the product from London to Florence....

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