Cocoa recipe Mesoamerican Indians

How to make a drink that can soothe the heart, to keep his mind and cure tuberculosis, how many beans could buy a rabbit in Nicaragua and how many times a day drank chocolate Aztec ruler Motecuhzoma II

Produced Hope Biryukova

The Indians of New Spain cooked chocolate. The woodcut

artist of the French school. XVI century

First cocoa began to brew in the nineteenth century BC in Mesoamerica — a region that stretches from Northern Mexico to Nicaragua. Then drink from cocoa beans was an almost complete opposite of what we call cocoa today: the taste of it was bitter and astringent, and drank it mostly cold and not hot.

Bernardino de sahagún, a Spanish missionary, a Franciscan friar who worked in Mexico in the sixteenth century, wrote in his book “a General history of the Affairs of New Spain”:

“the Tree, which grows cocoa, called “cacahuatl”; he has thick branches, wide leaves, it is medium in size and forms a crown. The fruit it gives, similar to corn on the cob or a little bigger like a young corn on the cob. It’s called “cacahuazintle”. Inside cocoa beans, they as grain maize, purple outside, and in the inner part of bright red or scarlet color, some reddish, some whitish, some bluish. Over time it became known as cocoa. It is edible, drink it. When it is fresh, if you drink a lot, especially when it’s green, it stupefies people, possessed people, intoxicated people, forces to spin face from people, lose heart people, crazy people. But if you drink moderately, it revitalizes and refreshes, calms the people’s heart, softens people. Say: “I drink cocoa, I moisten my lips, I gain strength“”.

According to Sahagún, the Aztec called good cocoa tlaquetzalli — “precious thing”.

The man with the cocoa bean. Aztec figurine.

1440–1521 years


One of the earliest references to cocoa appears in the “Message about some Affairs in New Spain and the great city of Temestitan Mexico” (i.e., the Aztec capital tenochtitlán), published in 1556. The author works — unknown Conquistador, companion of Hernan Cortes. The process of cooking Indian drink he described as follows:

“These grains, which are called almonds or cacao, crushed and turned into powder, and other small seeds are crushed, and the powder is placed in a special jugs with a spout. There they add water and a spoon beat, and once the drink is whipped well, they poured the [resulting mixture] from one container to another, because of which the foam is formed, which they collect in a different, specially designed for this pitcher. And before you can drink [cocoa], they beat him a little gold, silver or wooden spoon. But they have to open your mouth wide, because the foam should settle down and become more liquid. This drink — the most healthy and nutritious out of all the world’s food, because he who drinks a Cup of this liquid, no matter how far he walks, can go a whole day and nothing else to eat and drink because this is by nature cold, its better to eat in hot weather than in cold”.

To drink from the cocoa bean has added various herbs and spices. Among the most famous was the chili pepper. Spanish Conquistador Francisco hernández wrote about the three aromatic spices that were added in cocoa, — the colors of the Guanacaste tree, vanilla and black pepper.

In addition to the seeds, sometimes also used the pulp beans by fermentation Indians prepared from intoxicating drink. However, a drink from the seeds was more popular.

The composition of cocoa butter is often added corn — perhaps in memory of the fact that cocoa beans were obtained from the body of the God of corn.

Medicinal properties

Among other things, cocoa has been used for medical purposes — for the treatment of gastric and intestinal pains. To get rid of infection in cocoa added liquid from the bark of cotton wood. Bernardino de sahagún was also described some methods of treatment using cacao beans: “Those who spits out blood, they drink cocoa with… aromatic spices… And it can be drunk with wine…”

And further: “the Current white pus, or pus mixed with blood, are treated… [this requires] a drink of cocoa, mixed with lime water; but the water from this lime must be settled for several days, and also need to throw in itself a little cocoa roasted chilli”.


Goddess cocoa. Mayan statuette of the late classical period from the Museum “Popol Vuh”, Guatemala

The Maya felt the cacao tree and its fruits are sacred: they were used in rituals in marriage and funeral. The beverage made from its seeds,identified with the blood — perhaps because of its reddish tint. In Madrid hieroglyphic manuscripts (one of three surviving hieroglyphic Mayan manuscripts Dating from the XVI-XVII centuries) depicts the rite watering disclosed fruits cocoa blood extracted from pierced ears.

The feast in the month of Muan (in the XVI century it had on April 22 — may 11) held a ceremony in honor of the gods, particularly the God of trade and cocoa Ek-Cuaha, during which sacrificed a dog, spots on the skin which resembled in shape and color of cocoa beans.

According to the Bishop of Yucatan, Diego de Landa, drink cocoa was considered a compulsory element in the rite of initiation for children, which he compared with Christian baptism.

In the myths of the Indians of Costa Rica States that to supernatural beings cocoa — this is the blood of the people. Spirits belong to the people as to the benefits of cocoa: some care about them, while others eat them. Cultural hero Xibe grew up only eating cocoa, and was able to start a war with demons and monsters and destroyed them.

For the Aztecs, cocoa was associated with the earth and the feminine (as opposed

from corn, which was associated with the sky and masculine). Cocoa beans were also a symbol of power. The peoples Anau drink from the cocoa bean was considered a privilege of the elite. Bernal Diaz, in his “True history of the conquest of New Spain” wrote that the Aztec ruler Motecuhzoma II after the meal, drank cocoa and smoked a cigar. According to other sources, in the process of multiple courses Motecuhzoma II about 60 times brought chocolate with Crema on top.

The cost

In addition, cacao beans were used as a means of cash settlement. Subordinate province paid tribute to the Aztecs cocoa beans. In the sixteenth century the Spaniards, in particular, recorded that from the province Soconusco on the Pacific coast of Chiapas annually delivered 400 bags, or measures of cocoa. Each measure contained 8000 beans. Spanish chronicler fernández de Oviedo wrote down the prices in the markets of Nicaragua: the fruit was worth half of Bob, Bunny — 10 beans, slave — 100 beans. Cocoa beans were used as money and after the Spanish conquest: in 1625, one of the Spanish real was equal to 200 beans.

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