According to a legend, the «Feathered Serpent» Quetzalcóatl – the main deity of several pre-Hispanic civilizations – gave the Toltecs the CACAO grains so that their people could be well fed, as well scholars and artisans.
Then he asked Tláloc — God of rain — to send water to Earth so that the plant would grow. Then he went to visit Xochiquetzal, Goddess of love and beauty, and asked her to grow beautiful flowers on the plant. It is then when cocoa is obtained from its fruits.
According to cacaomexico.org, the Olmecs (1500-400 BC) were the first civilization in pre-Hispanic Mexico to taste and cultivate cacao. They made the drink by grinding the cocoa beans, adding water, spices and herbs.
The main areas where the Olmec culture developed: southwest of Veracruz and West of Tabasco, coincide with the main places where a very distinguished cocoa is grown for its flavor.
After a few centuries, the cocoa culture spread to the Mayan and Aztec civilizations. Therefore, the main areas where the Mayan civilization developed – the states of Campeche and Chiapas – on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, are also known as the origin of the cacao tree.
According to some vestiges, the Aztecs prepared a bitter concoction that was reserved exclusively for the emperor, nobles and warriors.
For pre-Hispanic civilizations a cocoa pod was more valuable than a gold nugget. It was also used as a bargaining chip in ancient Tenochtitlan, for example.
It is said that Moctezuma, king of the Mexicas, accumulated up to 100 million cocoa beans.
With the arrival of the Spaniards, the drink with cocoa, the chocolate (there are other drinks that include it: Tascalate, Pozol, Champurrado, Tejate, Tanchuca, Popo and Bupu) were added milk, sugar, cinnamon and other spices.
In 1528 Hernán Cortés returned to Spain with a shipment of cocoa beans, utensils and recipes for their preparation. In 1615 he arrived in France thanks to Louis XIII; from there he traveled to Germany and England.
A few years later, in 1659, the first chocolate factory was opened in Paris.
In 1724, the DRAE at present, included for the first time the definition of chocolate: “Drink that is made with the paste also called chocolate, which is composed of cocoa, sugar and cinnamon (although some may add vanilla and other ingredients”.
In 1753 Carl Linnaeus named the seed native to Mesoamerica Theobroma cacao.
While the bean is known as cacao, cocoa is the product obtained from the industrialization of the seed. That is why we can find cacao as a powder to prepare desserts, although we also find it in chocolate bars and other derivatives.
Today, pure cacao has gained much popularity by being included in the vegan diet and in general in a healthy diet, since it does not contain additives or sugars, it is a natural food and it has excellent properties for our body and our health.
In addition to the drinks that are made in Mexico with cocoa, this is also an ingredient in some dishes of Mexican cuisine such as:
–The mole poblano: One of the more than 15 ingredients with which this delicious dish is prepared is chocolate.
–Chocolate tamales: They are made with the mixture of cocoa with corn, almonds and walnuts. They are wrapped in corn husk and can be bathed in a red fruit sauce.
–Enchiladas Oaxaqueñas: These are tortillas stuffed with chicken or turkey, wrapped in the shape of a taco and bathed in mole sauce. Cheese and cream can be added on top.
Cacao is undoubtedly one of the most important Mesoamerican contributions to the world. It is considered a superfood that contains more than 50 nutrients, including antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. It is also an important symbol of pre-Hispanic mythology, so much so that it is embodied in ancient codices such as the Popol Vuh.