Welcome to the "AtoZ Chocolate History Challenge";
This  challenge consists of 26 weeks of activities following the chronological history of chocolate.
Every week, children will be given the opportunity to learn about a new topic and a linked word from A-Z chocolate vocabulary.
On Mondays, you'll be able to access the weekly word-puzzles and drawing activities; we suggest using a new piece of paper to draw;
 
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Week 4 - Hernan Cortes

& the letter D for Drinking Chocolate

 

We can thank Hernán Cortés for the hot chocolate we drink today.

 

After invading the New World (Mexico) in 1519, Cortés soon realised the monetary value of cocoa beans in the Aztec civilisation, which was then colonised and destroyed by 1523, and renamed "New Spain" a few years later.

 

Because of the legend of their God, Quetzalcoatl, the Aztecs believed Hernán Cortés to be their returned deity. He was invited to the court of Montezuma II, and with all the respect owed to a God, he was offered a Xocoatl,the Aztec drinking chocolate, in a gold cup usually reserved for royalty. Later, Cortés wrote about it; “a divine drink which builds up resistance and fights fatigue. A cup of this precious drink permits a man to walk for a whole day without food.”

 

Hernán Cortés brought cocoa beans back to the court of Spain in 1527 on the advice of his travel companion, the missionary Bartolomé de Olmedo.

 

But for many years, the drink didn’t appeal to the invaders. In 1575, Girolamo Benzoni wrote: ”it was more a drink for pigs than a drink for humans. I was in the country for more than a year and never wanted to taste it; some Indian would offer me a drink of it, and would be amazed when I wouldn’t accept, going away laughing”. After a shortage of wine, he admitted that it was satisfying and refreshing even if it had a bitter taste."

In 1590, a Jesuit wrote: “…The Spanish men and even more the Spanish women are addicted to the dark drinking chocolate.”

It didn’t take long for drinking chocolate to become popular throughout Europe

Week 3 - Drinking Chocolate

& the letter C for cocoa, chilli, criollo

 

The hot chocolate we know and love today wasn’t always as delicious. In Aztecs Nahuatl language, It was called Xocoatl, and for good reason; it simply meant “bitter-water”. Served cold by the Mayans, and hot by the Aztecs, it was a mixture of water and crushed cocoa beans, flavoured with spices such as chilli & vanilla, and thickened with maize (corn) and seeds. A small amount of honey or agave could have been used to sweeten the drink. It was more of a tonic drink, which means it was believed to give the drinker strength.

 

Going back over 3000 years ago, urns in tombs have been found containing a dried cocoa mixture; the drink was only meant for kings, priests and warriors who were buried with their most precious relics. The drink was often present during birth and wedding ceremonies, but women were forbidden to drink it.

 

The cocoa tree that originated from the Amazon Rainforest was the

Criollo; fragile and more difficult to grow with a delicate cocoa flavour, it is still grown today in South America. There are two other main varieties of cocoa trees; the Forastero, mostly grown in Africa, known for its robustness and strong taste, and the Trinitario, initially grown in Trinidad, a hybrid of the former two, combining the best characteristics of both.

 

It was on his fourth journey that Christopher Columbus was made aware of cocoa beans being used as currency by the Aztecs, as he was trading goods at the time, but there is no mention anywhere of him tasting or trading with them.

 

Around 1600, Benedictine Monks in Mexico added cane sugar to the drink, and it was in 1606 that it was first introduced to the court of Spain. Milk was only added to the drink instead of water around 1650.

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We thank you for participation,
Programme in partnership with Melange Chocolate
Principal Sources:
"The True history of Chocolate" Thames & Hudson & "Encyclopedie du chocolate et de la confiserie" AFCC
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