What is the story we tell about chocolate? In How the Maya and Inca Fed the World, I said it all began with the Maya. However, according to the Guardian article, Origin of Chocolate Shifts 1400 Miles and 1500 Years, it simply isn’t true. Archeology in Ecuador proved the source of chocolate is further south. Researchers found genetic remains of cacao beans in pottery bowls in what is today Santa Ana-La Florida, Ecuador. The Mayo Chinchipe people who lived near the Amazon and Chinchipe Rivers about five thousand years ago are now believed to be the pioneers in cultivating cacao. The Maya in Central America further developed the plant and their own rituals much later. What I find surprising, is that this new information was uncovered in 2002, but the findings are only coming to light this autumn. Thanks to the Mayo Chinchipe culture for a great food discovery!
When cacao beans were first tasted by Europeans, they were dismissed as too bitter. By the 1600s, royal and noble Spaniards had developed a taste for hot chocolate sweetened with cane sugar. What we think of as chocolate today, the chocolate bar, was not invented until 1847 by Joseph Fry in England.
What else will researchers find to change our ideas about food and history?
Gracias for reading! Olé! -Rebecca
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