The origin of chocolate dates back to pre-Hispanic times, as it was the Mayas and Aztecs who cultivated the cocoa fruit and took advantage of its properties to make Xocolatl, a drink worthy of royalty.
Learn more about the origin of chocolate and the wonder of this drink in our blog!
Where does the name Xocolatl come from and what does it mean?
The word Xocolatl is of Nahuatl origin and means chocolate, referring to the drink made from cocoa and warm water that was obtained from this fruit.
Xocolatl is a compound word between two terms: Xoco, which means bitter, and Atl which means water.
Learn about the legend of cocoa in Pre-Hispanic Mexico.
Cacao is a tropical fruit that is harvested in some regions of Central America and Africa, and Mexico is one of the largest producers of cacao in the world.
It is thanks to the weather conditions in the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn that cocoa can be grown in these areas since hot and humid climates are required for the proper development of the cocoa tree.
The cultivation of cocoa in Mesoamerica dates back more than 2,500 years ago by the Mayan civilization, which extended from Chiapas and the Yucatan Peninsula to some regions of Honduras and El Salvador, and used this fruit for curative, religious, reproductive purposes and as a currency of exchange.
Over the years, the Maya shared their knowledge of cacao with their neighbors, the Aztecs, who adopted the different uses of this exotic fruit. However, due to the climate and the fact that conditions were not optimal for cultivation within the Aztec Empire, they imported cocoa from Tabasco or Chiapas, which was too expensive.
Due to its difficult access, cocoa became a precious and exclusive object within the Aztec civilization and was destined for the use of royalty, nobility, and soldiers.
In fact, it is estimated that the court of Emperor Moctezuma received thousands of cocoa berries to prepare 50 cups of Xocolatl daily for the ruler’s personal consumption.
Xocolatl: The drink and food of the gods.
The use of cocoa for the preparation of Xocolatl was one of the most recurrent practices among the Aztecs, as it was used as a sexual stimulant, as a source of energy and to alleviate various medical conditions such as malnutrition.
Xocolatl was prepared by mixing hot water with roasted and ground cocoa beans, then the brew was aerated by passing it from one glass to another to raise foam and help stir it.
Although this could be said to be the original recipe, to give it a different flavor it could be sweetened with honey, vanilla, and some spices and even chili could be added.
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