Phillip Minton M.D.

Truly Original Hot Cocoa

In chocolate, health food, history, recipe on March 22, 2012 at 11:38 pm

Totenac villagers from east coastal Mexico are making traditional hot cocoa drinks from raw,  natural cacao and vanilla, just as they have for hundreds of years. No one knows for sure how long the Totenacs have lived in the region, but their oral traditions at the time of Hernando Cortez in the 16th century indicated they had been there for at least 800 years prior to the arrival of the Spanish conqueror.

At that time, it is estimated that the Totenacs numbered around 250,000 people. Just 25 years prior to Cortez anchoring his ships off their coast, the Totenacs had been conquered by the neighboring Aztecs, who enslaved many of them, offered them as live sacrifices, and perhaps most importantly, demanded a constant supply of cacao and vanilla from them.

Yes, the Totenacs were rich in vanilla and cacao. Additionally, they knew how to make delicious, energizing drinks from these rare and valuable commodities.  The Totenacs used their skills to produce a wonderful drink that is still favored today – hot chocolate. They began by roasting the cacao beans and vanilla pods. Next they removed the vanilla seeds and crushed them together with the hot cacao beans with a device that looked something like a rolling pin. This was continued over the fire until a thick paste resulted. The paste was added to hot liquid, water or milk, and then spices added for a final kick. The result is the famous drink which the Aztec ruler King Montezuma was famous for drinking daily as a delicious stimulant.


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