On a recent trip to Peru, I visited the Cocoa museum where I got to consume the most amazing hot chocolate and learn about its 2000 year old history.
The Incas drank the bitter Cocoa drink Xocolatl in an almost reverent fashion and saw it as a total health tonic. Cocoa is very high in antioxidants and is now considered a super-food—which doesn’t surprise me at all.
After the Spanish annihilated the Incas, they took back to Europe many of the Incan treasures including the Cocoa bean. It was consumed exclusively among nobility, then later sweetened with sugar. Once it became fashionable, the first Chocolate houses were established where the elite could gather and be seen.
Over the following centuries, vanilla and milk were added and the invention of solid chocolate made this humble bean a worldwide phenomenon and accessible to all.
I gave up smoking seven years ago and with it, coffee. At the time the two together seemed a perfect marriage. Since those days I’ve discovered a new world of leafy tea goodness, from herbal pick-me-ups to the hot pot of black with lemon (pinkies up). But after my recent cocoa education, I’ve noticed a multitude of flavours of drinking chocolate—everything from Peppermint to Chilli. I’m now delving into that world, from grinding the raw cocoa beans for mixing into a morning super-food smoothy, to melting chocolate spoons into hot milk for a decadent treat in the evening.
Hot or not—who says something that tastes this good has to be bad for you?