By Oscar Quiroz
The Spaniards granted various attributes to the cocoa, such as that of aphrodisiac, palliative that helped to mitigate some pain, be a sinful drink and even help digestion created by excessive consumption of red meat, but who had the faculties to have this excellent drink?
In Mexican society and other Mesoamerican peoples accessto the drink made with cocoa was difficult to have; the first documents written in these lands with the arrival of the Spaniards mention so that drinking chocolate was something limited to the Mexica elite; to the royal house, the lords and the nobility, the messengers and the warriors. The only plebeians who had occasion to prove such luxury were, it seems, the soldiers in the field.
In the banquets and in the most normal meals of the elite, one never drank chocolate with food; They were served at the end, along with tobacco.
Bernal Díaz del Castillo has the most famous chronicle of a Mexican banquet. The food of King Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, was an event of culinary hedonism, with more than 300 dishes prepared especially for him; but most of his food was going to be given to the other assistants, since he ate sparingly. Bernal Díaz mentions about the cacao in the feast that “They brought in some as a cup of fine gold with a certain drink made from the same cocoa; they said it was to have access to women, and then we did not look at it; but what I saw that they brought over fifty large jars, made of good cacao, with its foam, and of that I drank.”
For his part Fray Bartolome de las Casas in his story ofthe banquet of Moctezuma tells us “the drink forms the water mixed with a certain flour that is produced from some samples called cocoa. It is very substantial, refreshing, pleasant to taste and not intoxicating.”
The banquets given by the pochtecas used to include large amounts of chocolate drink. An ambitious merchant could rise within his guild, but to see a very expensive matter, to climb the socioeconomic ladder had to sponsor, at each step of the same, a great banquet, very expensive, for his colleagues. They were increasingly expensive as it has been rising and consumed huge quantities of food, cocoa drink and even hallucinogenic mushrooms. Sahagún indicates in great detail what types of food were served in these celebrations and how, according to the times, the culmination of those great meals was chocolate:
“And to end everything, culminated with the cacahuatl.To carry it, the glass was taken with the right hand, it was not customary to take it by its edges, the pumpkin should be placed on the palm of the right hand and the stick to beat base on the sinister.”
The warriors were another group that was allowed to consume chocolate. In fact, cocoa was a regular part of military rations. Durán mentions that they brought with them “moldy tamales and cured in the sun, large bales of chili, ground cocoa made in pellets, of all great quantity, because in addition to what the kings prowess from their large barns and granaries, each soldier had recipes his peculiar food.”