Theobroma cacao is Latin for cocoa tree and it literally means 'food of the gods'. Today, we shall call it chocolate.
Chocolate has always been wrapped in a veil of mystery, the mystic, the hidden desires and sensual lust. The shamans and the Mayan and the Aztecs chiefs used it as a potion in their rituals. Cocoa consumption was the privilege of the tribal elders and the beverage where cocoa beans were mixed with roasted maize, chilli, water and some other ingredients, was believed to have magical powers. Cocoa pods, which contain 20 to 50 seeds, were regularly sacrificed to the gods.
Central America's ancient fascination with chocolate comes as no surprise. Everything that the Maya and the Aztecs believed the chocolate of doing, the chocolate really does. It is a lucky combination of constituents, almost as if they were destined to make one happy.
Magical powers of a heavenly drink
It is a fact that chocolate releases ‘happy hormones’ and acts as an antidepressant, but it also relieves stress. The combination of its constituents boosts the immune system and helps prevent heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. A few bites of dark chocolate a day have the same effect as an aspirin when it comes to improving coagulation and preventing blood clots.
Cocoa solids, the main ingredient of chocolate, contain flavonoids and theobromine, whose cough preventing properties are almost three times stronger than codeine's. I agree with Hippocrates' 'Our food should be our medicine, our medicine should be our food,' and suggest we eat only chocolate! We would live longer and be healthier, happier and sexually more active. Science has proven that alkaloid theobromine, apart from helping to fight cough, is also a natural booster of the libido, especially in women. Given this scientific contribution, it is clear why the chiefs and the shamans of the Maya and the Aztecs considered cocoa a holy plant and believed its fruit to have magical powers.
Hats off to chocolate
When chocolate first reached Europe, instead of chilli and maize, the Europeans added nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar to the cocoa powder in order to prepare the 'mysterious overseas beverage'. For a whole century this dainty dish was a secret of the Spanish Court. In the 18th century in The Netherlands the first chocolate bar as we know it today was made.
Today, chocolate is no longer the privilege of the gods, the crowned heads of Europe or a select few. It could be said that it's the most democratic delicacy in the world. A bar of chocolate can be found everywhere - in a shabby grocery shop in the slums of Addis Ababa or some other Third World city, on the conference table of big multinationals that rule the world, and on the slopes of Mount Everest in a mountain climber's backpack as a light but rich (and therefore valuable) source of calories at 8000 meters above sea level.
The desired forbidden fruit
Chocolate is the inevitable ingredient of a large number of pastries, there are museums of chocolate, such as the one in Cologne, Germany, and a similar one under way in Croatia, songs and films about it, etc. There are even special festivals dedicated to chocolate. One takes place in Opatija, Croatia, where some of the most diverse chocolate delicacies can be found in one place.
But despite its present-day availability and global presence, even to the modern day chocolate continues to evoke something mystic, anticipate sweet pleasures and offer sensual indulgence. Such is the essence of chocolate - to arouse desire and be desired.