Xocolatl: The Mayan Food Of The Gods

By | April 10, 2019

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Chocolate was developed by the ancient Mayans. Source: (sciencemag.org)

We have the Mayans to thank for giving us one of our favorite guilty pleasures, chocolate. Archaeologists believe that chocolate, or Xocolatl, as the Mayans called it, was cultivated as early as 900 AD in Mesoamerica. The Mayans, and later the Aztecs, made a beverage from the beans of the cocoa pods that was used for a popular, everyday drink but also used in rituals and healing practices. The beverage was a far cry from the sweetened hot chocolate that we enjoy today. Let’s look at the traditional xocolatl drink, the Mayan food of the Gods. 

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Hot chocolate was made with cocoa beans and chili peppers. Source: (thrivetribe.com)

The Mayan’s ‘Bitter Water’

We take the present-day word ‘chocolate’ from the Mayan word ‘xocolatl’, which translates to mean ‘bitter water.’ And that is an accurate description of the traditional Mayan chocolate beverage. The Mayans did not cultivate sugar cane so they had no means of sweetening the bitter cocoa beans. They made the drink by crushing the cocoa beans, then adding chili peppers and water. Before serving it, they would rapidly pour it from one cup into another until a frothy foam formed on the top, like some of today’s Starbucks drinks.