MONTEZUMA, SOCRETES, CASANOVA, Queen Isabella, Dominican Friars, Louis XIV, Madame Pompadour, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Queen Victoria, Rodolphe Lindt, General Eisenhower, Niel Armstrong — what do these people have in common? They all LOVED chocolate. Few foods evoke as much passion as chocolate. Myriad historical references to folklore and history from many cultures claim consuming chocolate instills faith, improves health, builds strength, and fuels sexual passion. Once an indulgence of royalty, chocolate is now a treasured and accessible – and yes, even healthy – treat.
The Greeks called it “theobroma” or “food of the Gods, naming it from the seeds from the tropical Theobroma cacao tree. The Maya, who have used it for more than 3000 years, called it “xocolati, or bitter water, a name which suggests they made a drink of it. (Sugar was unknown in the MesoAmerican cultures.) The Aztecs believed their god, Quetzalcoatl, descended from heaven carrying a cocoa tree. Both Amazon cultures believed chocolate to be a source of wisdom and vitality, reserving it’s use for noblemen, priests, and warriors. Records dating to 1200 AD (and before) show cocoa beans were used also as a form of currency. Making use of its many qualities, the Emperor Montezuma purportedly drank 50 (golden) goblets of chocolate a day, which would have made him wealthy and wise and a very busy boy, especially when it came to the ladies. Chocolate has long been valued for its aphrodisiac qualities. This attribute was later enjoyed by many, including the famous philanderer Casanova as well as multitudes of aspiring lovers today who celebrate Valentine’s Day (the day of lovers) with gifts of chocolate.
More about chocolate. Where it came from and why you should indulge.