Were the goldens days of Anahuac filled with chocolate gardens?
Mexican mythology enlightens us to the importance of cacao.
One of the most sacred traditions of the Indians of Mexico hints we may be indebted to Divine providence for chocolate’s introduction to earth.
This tradition believes Quetzalcoatl, god of the air, was commissioned to convey to man the seeds of the “quacahault” or cacao tree. This tree was one of the few growing in Eden for the pleasure, delight, and nutrition of the gods and first sons of the Sun.
News Flash: The Garden of Eden had chocolate!
In goes on…In the golden days of Anahuac or Mexico, when the “garden prophet” resided on earth, the land teemed with fruits and flowers without the pains of culture. A single ear of Indian corn was as much as a man could carry. The cotton, as it grew, was dyed to the hues required by man. The air was filled with intoxicating perfumes and the sweet melody of birds, and things were always as they ought to be.
Quetzalcoatl incurred the wrath of one of the principal gods and was forced to leave the country. He was so much beloved by the people of Mexico, to whom he had taught the use of metals, agriculture and the arts of government, that his return was looked for with confidence and pleasure. A temple and altar were erected to his worship.
He was said to have been tall, with white skin, long dark hair and a flowing beard. This description, which looked much like Cortez at the head of the Spanish invasion, largely prepared the people for easy acceptance of the Spaniards into the hearts of the people.
How to Enjoy the Chocolate of Eden
Before chocolate was pressed into bars, it was liquified and frothed into a delicious and bitter drink. Today, we often add a sweetener to our chocolate like honey or sugar.
In our ancestors kitchen, they agreed that making cocoa and chocolate for drinking is largely a matter of taste and the best chocolate enthusiasts disagreed about how to do it well. Among their advice:
Chocolate should never be made except for when it will be used immediately. By allowing it to become cold, and then boiling it again before serving, the flavor is “injured” and the oily particles of the cocoa are separated, rising to the surface, and will never be fully incorporated into the liquid properly.
Rather than the convenient packages we use to stir up chocolate beverages today, vintage kitchens relied on blocks, or cakes, of chocolate. The chocolate was scraped from these blocks in the amount desired for the beverage. A very simple preparation of hot chocolate could be made by scraping an ounce of chocolate from the square, mixing it with an equal weight of sugar, and mixing into a pint of “perfectly boiling milk and water” (one-half pint of each). Then, stir until the solids are dissolved, boil for an additional 10-12 minutes (if desired) then serve.
You will also notice that many vintage hot cocoa recipes include the addition of an egg. Today we have a generous amount of research confirming the healthy benefits of quality grade cocoa. In the past, while they didn’t have the body of scientific proof, they still believed and advertised chocolate as a healthy food. I image the addition of an egg for some families meant added nutrition and value for a very simple and cost-effective breakfast choice.
Blast from the Past: Frothed Cocoa Recipe
*A recipe from Great Grandma’s Cookbook
- 1 Tablespoons Cocoa
- 1 Quart Milk
- 2 Teaspoons Cornstarch
- 1 Egg
- 1Teaspoon Vanilla
- 1 teaspoon Whipped Cream
- Dissolve cocoa in a little hot water. Scald milk and add the cocoa.
- Add cornstarch to mixture. Remove from heat and add the egg which has been whipped well.
- Whip vigorously and add vanilla then return to low-heat.
- Serve with a teaspoonful of whipped cream added to each cup.