Incredible as it may seem, Hernan Cortés brought cacao beans from Mexico to Europe, but the Spanish people initially did not appreciate this wonderful gift because they didn’t like the way the Mexican people consumed the beverage: cold and without sugar. Europeans changed the preparation to hot and with sugar. They also began to add spices, such as cinnamon, anise, vanilla or black pepper. It was the first step in introducing Mexico’s chocolate to the world.
Cacao was the first food accepted at the Spanish table from the new world, not only for its flavor, but mostly as a remedy for sorrow. Soon, the chocolate beverage and sweets began to spread throughout the European continent, arriving in Italy at the end of the 16th century. Katherine of Austria introduced the custom of drinking chocolate in the court of the Nápoles Kingdom and from there, all of Italy began consuming it.
For England, the discovery of this seductive drink awoke an insatiable thirst to the point of an addiction. It is said that Queen Victoria was addicted to chocolate, and who can blame her!
The Spaniards brought chocolate to France, but it was French bakers who gave the luxurious and tempting flavor to it. They achieved a well-deserved reputation for being the best-of-the-best chocolatiers thanks to their creations.
Then in 1828, the Dutch chemist and chocolate maker Coenraad Van Houten created powdered chocolate, which became very popular throughout the continent. The English brought chocolate to North America, for which both Americans and Canadians are eternally grateful.
Chocolate has been enjoyed by the world for well over five centuries and has spawned a number of sayings in Spanish that we would like to share with you:
- Chocolate is the answer, regardless of the question. (El chocolate es la respuesta sin importer la pregunta).
- There is no evil that lasts one hundred years, nor sorrow, that chocolate cannot cure. (No hay mal que dure cien años ni pena que el chocolate no cure).
- The things clear and the chocolate dark. (Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso) Spanish proverb.
- Chocolate makes everybody laugh, even bankers. (El chocolate hace sonreír a todos, incluso a los banqueros). Benneville Strohecker.
- Like water for chocolate. (Como agua para chocolate). This is also the title of a very famous book written by Mexican novelist and screenwriter Laura Esquivel, who also was the director of the movie with the same title, which we highly recommend to both chocolate lovers, and just lovers.
We hope you enjoyed this chocolate journey through history, especially with a hot cup of sweet chocolate…yummy!