Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cacao: Gift of the Feathered Serpent

When Cortés descended on the Aztecs in 1519, Montezuma put on a feast offering a drink like nothing the Spanish had ever tasted; cacanautal, chocolate, the sacred drink used in the worship of Xochiquetzal. Known as Precious Flower Feather, she reigned as fertility goddess, associated with plants and flowers, sexual love and beauty. The chocolate that Cortés consumed on that historic occasion had been prepared with loving care. The seeds of the cacao tree had been fermented, roasted, crushed into a paste, and flavored with flowers, chilies, black pepper and vanilla. Diluted with cold water, the drink was splashed between lacquered gourds until the liquid frothed. The foamy chocolate was served in golden goblets, passed by women as slowly and reverently as sacraments.

Montezuma was known to consume a vast amount of chocolate, sometimes up to fifty cups a night, perhaps because among other virtues chocolate was considered to be an aphrodisiac. Cacao beans were so valued that they was also used as a currency; one turkey cost one hundred beans; one ripe avocado, three beans; one mushy avocado, one bean.

The delicious gift, the Aztecs believed, derived as a gift of Quetzalcoatl, the Feathered Serpent - quetzal,  native bird and coatl, a snake. One of the major deities of an ancient Mexican pantheon, in his earliest aspect Quetzalcoatl was a vegetation god. As the theology evolved, the Aztecs believed that Quetzalcoatl invented the calendar and book. Powerful as he was, Quetzalcoatl was defeated in a clash with a rival deity and sailed off to the east on a raft formed by writhing snakes.

Before his spectacular celestial debut, Quetzalcoatl warned that he would return on his name day to reclaim his kingdom, which would mean the end of Aztec rule. Montezuma believed that the omen referred to the calendar year One Reed, which happened to be 1519. The omen also predicted that one of the many forms of the god would be a white-skinned man with a beard. Cortés just happened to arrive at precisely at the right time and right place.

The Chocolate Sensation

Chocolate contains a variety of substances which affect the body's chemistry, including alkaloids and amino acids, offering mild mood-elevating effect, as it provokes the release of seratonin. According to a study produced by the BBC, the sensation of chocolate melting in one's mouth produces an increase in brain activity and heart rate more intense than passionate kissing - and the effects last four times as long for chocolate! It's no doubt these pleasure elements often act as a catalyst for romance.

Tempt your taste buds (and your partner's) with these mouthwatering chocolate recipes:
Mexican Hot Chocolate

No comments:

Post a Comment