25th May 2020

Week 4

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Week 4 - Hernan Cortes

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

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We thank you for your 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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