Sunday, 6 January 2013

kakao oder heiße schokolade

Wanting to finish off the Christmas chocolate (at least symbolically, since there’s too much but one can always gnaw at a santa) for Twelfth Night and Epiphany (Dreikönigstag) and feeling a little sorry for brutally biting into it, I was reminded of an interesting and detailed history of chocolate and hot cocoa, which have both been somewhat slandered in recent years—especially cocoa, distinct from hot chocolate—that is surprisingly full of machismo and bravado, which I read recently on a clever new blog called the Art of Manliness.
Cocoa, rather and not the blog, throughout most of its venerable history until contemporary times was unapologetically macho and a bit chauvinistic. From time immemorial, cocoa was not merely reconstituted for children on cold mornings, but a holy and privileged source of vim and vigour for the Aztecs, Olmecs and the Mayans of Mesoamerica as valuable a commodity as gold, and even after European contact and commercialization of cocoa and its derivatives, still remained an elixir of heroes, promoted to bullfighters, soldiers, explorers, and firefighters. The qualities of this tonic were diluted somewhat with the discovery of how to deliver chocolate in solid form, but the article, in addition to tracing that development, presents a good analysis of constants, like the substance’s nutritional and chemical benefits, cult and reputation. There are quite a few interesting tangents offered to explore in the chain of custody that follows this drink of warriors to its present-day representatives.