Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Inventing Chocolate Beer!

It is not like the tasty happy marriage between peanut butter with a milk chocolate shell. The Mesoamerican elders of three thousand years ago under the spell of bitter chocolate made an adult beverage out of the root magic cacao plant pulp. Chocolate beer was the ancient equivalent of today's apple martini. After bean fermentation the ancestral drink was foamy and frothy, a bit like a latte, but most interestingly, it was the celebratory drink of choice rolled out for weddings and births of the ancient middle class yuppies. Like great wines, the inventors packaged the drink in long necked bottles after initially using more chubby urns. And after all this time, the drinks' dregs are being studied for more anthropology clues on the lives of these early Central American brewers.

Making chocolate booze is noteworthy as it was available 500 years before previously known. Anthropologists estimate other drink experiments with cacao and uses for the chocolate beans. The beans were a form of money for some and their power was in dual purposes of food enhancer and economic. In a cultural exchange benefiting 16th century Europeans, the cacao drink recipes traveled from the "cradle of chocolate" to have them turned into the modern world's powerhouse chocolate industry.

The archaeological evidence recovered by Henderson and colleagues from a site in Puerto Escondido in modern-day Honduras suggests that the beer which probably preceded the chocolate beverage was popular among wealthy natives at least as early as 1100 BC.

Chemical analysis of residues found on fragments of pottery vessels recovered from the site tested positive for theobromine - a compound found in cacao trees that were limited to Central America.

Researchers believe the quest to make beer led to the discovery of chocolate. Now every chocoholic knows who to hold accountable for their addiction. Premier chocolates owe its origins to cacao seeds. This legacy is available in a quite expensive book titled, Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao ( Maya Studies) by Cameron L. McNeil. It's going to need an update but the book is comprehensive and extremely good.

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