For many people coffee has a lot to do with chocolate; and to some women, it is more of a best friend than diamonds ever will be. Those of you who have enjoyed the intense comfort of a café mocha know exactly what I am talking about. Many people over the course of many centuries have had this same remarkable love of chocolate; it has been used as currency, and even has become synonymous with feelings of love. But how did this all start exactly? When did the human race start its love affair with chocolate and how did it evolve into what it is today?
It all started in Central America, where the cocoa plant grows wild, and was discovered by the Aztec and the Mayans anywhere between 3000 and 4000 years ago. These cultures were so enthralled with chocolate that they attributed most of its greatness to a connection with the gods. The Aztecs said that their god Quetzalcoatl brought them the first cocoa plant when he stole it from paradise and it has been associated with the fertility gods of both cultures. Chocolate was consumed mostly as a rich, bitter drink that usually contained chile peppers and cornmeal. This intense beverage was favored by royalty and was used in many religious ceremonies, thus it became a major part of the society in these cultures. Because chocolate came to represent wealth and social standing, it became a currency among these people and was given as tribute to conquering armies or as a tax.
It was during the Spanish conquests that the western world discovered chocolate; it was brought back from Mesoamerica and mixed it with different spices, sugar for one, to accommodate European tastes. From there the rest of the world fell in love with chocolate and began developing it and blending it into the familiar taste and texture that we are now familiar with.
Today, chocolate remains at the top of the list for a traditional sweet at most holidays, it has been rumored as a aphrodisiac and proven to be good for you some of the time by improving your circulation and blood pressure. Chocolate is a lot like coffee or tea in that it is surrounded by history and legend, and as big of a fan I am of both coffee and tea, it is chocolate that truly holds the titles of both food and gift of the gods.