For the love of ancient chocolate

A fresh look at ornate 1000-year-old vases from New Mexico’s canyons has unearthed a surprise: They were used as mugs to drink chocolate. The findings are the first record of the food in North America, long before its introduction in colonial times. They also reveal that chocolate was an expensive delicacy enjoyed by few during elaborate rituals.

here

Comments

  1. #1 Cal Harth
    February 7, 2009

    Greg,
    We should not be surprised at any news about the complexities of trading and culture in the Americas before it was “discovered” by Columbus. The Native Americans were certainly not stupid or primitive until white folks arrived to civilize them.
    You have probably read the book titled 1491. What an eye-opener it is.
    Cal

  2. #2 the real cocopuff
    February 7, 2009

    Now it makes sense: “Choco” Canyon…

  3. #3 Dan J
    February 8, 2009

    The drink was made from ground cacao seeds mixed with cold water, corn, and chili peppers.

    It’s definitely not what most of us imagine when we think of hot cocoa. Anybody have a recipe that might approximate what the Native Americans drank at the time?

  4. #4 Tsu Dho Nimh
    February 8, 2009

    Dan –
    Get some roasted cacao nibs from your favorite crunchy-granola foodstore, some dried “masa” from a Hispanic market, and some dried chili peppers (chili chipotle powder would be great). Quantities vary … the corn diluted the expensive beans and adds to the froth, so try 50/50 by weight of corn and cacao, adding just a bit of chili for a warm taste, more for more heat.

    Grind them together in a mortar and pestle (or a food processor) to a smooth paste, then beat them in a blender with water until it’s frothy. I’d guesstimate that it’s about 1/4 cup of choco-corn-chili paste to a blender-full of water.

  5. #5 Lilian Nattel
    February 8, 2009

    Before coffee made its way to Europe via trade, chocolate was drunk like coffee as a caffeinated drink, generally without sugar (too expensive back then).

  6. #6 Tsu Dho Nimh
    February 8, 2009

    Add a bit of cinnamon and some vanilla too, for the autentico Aztec experience.

  7. #7 khan
    February 8, 2009

    I have long been fascinated by ancient trade routes (and patterns).