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Chocolate Walk

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FOOD OF THE GODS 

Chocolate, or “chocolatl” as the Mayans called it (meaning bitter water in their local Nahuatl language), has been around for over 3000 years! First discovered and grown by the Olmecs, the cacao was then taken up by the Mayans and used for its perceived medicinal value.   They seasoned their chocolate by mixing the roasted cacao seed paste into a drink with water, chili peppers, and cornmeal, transferring the mixture repeatedly between pots until the top was covered with a thick foam.

By 1400, the Aztecs had taken over a sizable part of the Mesoamerican Mayan territory. They were not able to grow cacao themselves but were forced to import it from the Mayans. Thus the cacao bean became a form of currency and the basis for a tax levied on the conquered Mayans. The Aztecs drank their chocolatl cold, consuming it for a variety of purposes, especially as an aphrodisiac, as a treat for men after banquets, or included in the rations of Aztec soldiers.  Apparently, Moctezuma II, leader of the Aztec Empire from 1502-1520, served 2,000 jugs of frothed cacao at feasts and consumed 30-40 cups of the drink himself before visiting his harem!

After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs in 1521, chocolate was imported to Europe on the ships of conquistador Hernan Cortez. There, it quickly became a court favorite. It was still served as a beverage, but the Spanish added sugar or honey to counteract the natural bitterness.  After its arrival in Europe in the 1500s, it became popular throughout society, first among the ruling classes and then among the common people.

Today, in Puerto Vallarta, there are a few good chocolatiers creating both artisan and everyday chocolate delights. The Chocolate Walk given by Puerto Vallarta Walking Tours will introduce you to three of them.