I knew I got it all wrong! Why am I living in a time where people think chocolate is bad for you and gives you cholesterol, acne and allergy (when it is so not true, as I explain in my previous post Benefits of eating chocolate, and #4 is my favorite )? Why am I not living in a time where people treasure cacao, and therefore chocolate, like the most precious gift from Earth?
If only I were an Aztec….
Well, first of all I could not go out and drink with my friends on Saturday night. Aztecs considered getting drunk a bad thing to do, a sin so disgraceful that your penalty would be DEATH. They had their traditional alcoholic drink called octli, made out of agave (something like Tequila today I guess?), but only elder people could drink it. I know, pretty disappointing.
So, remind me, why would I want to be an Aztec again? Oh yes, because guess what other drink became the perfect replacement for the octli: CHOCOLATE! Even tough few in the village would still consider it some sort of stimulant in contrast with the desired austerity, chocolate became socially accepted as a drink full of benefits, finally something enjoyable not against the strict rules of the Aztec society. Therefore, they drank their welcomed chocolate in large quantities in the place of the prohibited octli. Isn’t it an awesome excuse?? I mean, imagine being justified to drink as much chocolate as you want because it is the “healthy and harmless” version of alcohol, without people bothering you about it. Honestly, my everyday dream! But how did the Aztecs drink their chocolate?
In contrast to the preference of the Mayas to drink their chocolate hot, Aztecs opted for the cold version. They would crush the inside of the cocoa beans until it turned into powder, then put this fine powder in a basin together with cold water and then mix well. To create the foam, that they really cared for, they would transfer the mixture from basin to basin until the desired amount of foam was achieved. Finally, they would put it into a vessel specific for chocolate and enjoy the heavenly liquid whenever they wanted.
There wasn’t just one type of chocolate drink though, there were bazillions! Different was the kind of chocolate served to the elite from the one for the servants, from the one that regular people would drink. There was also a huge variety of spices and flavorings to choose from: chilli, maize, vanilla, honey, erbs, different types of flower, and many more. What a paradise! And with such simple ingredients, there is no doubt chocolate would be healthy and only full of good nutrients at that time.
The so called Anonymous Conqueror, supposedly one of the men of Hernàn Cortès, wrote in 1556:
“This drink is the healthiest thing, and the greatest sustenance of anything you could drink in the world, because he who drinks a cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day without eating anything else”.
But this is not all! For Aztecs cacao had an immense value, and therefore it was used as a money for trading. A small rabbit would be worth 30 cocoa beans, one tomato would be worth 1, one turkey egg 3, and so on. That is why their reserve of cocoa beans in the Royal storehouse was astonishing. And we can say that the Aztecs were practically drinking their own money. How cool is that?!
Ah, I would have made a very good Aztec….
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I did NOT get paid and did NOT receive any kind of favor for writing this article. These are my honest opinions at your service.