What is Cacao?
"IN NO OTHER PRODUCT HAS NATURE CONCENTRATED SUCH A VALUABLE AND HEALTHY FOOD IN SUCH A LITTLE SPACE AS A CACAO SEED."
Cacao is a fruit of tropical origin that comes from the cacao tree, it has a height of four to eight meters, its fruits are elongated berries called pods , they contain 30-40 reddish seeds and are covered by a sweet, edible white pulp. .
It lives in humid tropical forests with a warm climate and takes five years to bear its first fruits. The cacao tree grows under the protective shade of larger trees, called cacauaneche or Madre de Cacao.
This tree is a symbol of abundance and serves as a metaphorical conduit through which the souls of humans and gods travel through earth, heaven and hell.
The symbolic fabric of cacao is linked to darkness , night, caves, the humid half of the year, blackness, clouds, cold and humid places, the feminine and the Moon.
In 600 BC the Mayans cultivated cacao, called it "cacauatl" and considered it a divine food. They consumed it mixed with water and spices such as pepper or cloves, in a drink called "xocolatl" (bitter water).
Cacao was a food reserved for elites, nobles and warriors . It was used ceremonially at weddings between members of royalty, it accompanied the deceased on their way to the underworld and was prepared to celebrate military victories. The cocoa bean was used as a monetary and measurement unit .
In the Aztec Empire, Moctezuma received part of his tributes in cacao beans, which amounted to 400,000 countles annually, which was equivalent to 160 million cocoa beans, enough to prepare fifty cups of cacao a day for his personal consumption.
“ Cacao was always on the table of the tlatoanis in such an exquisite, varied and abundant way that it caused astonishment to all those who were outsiders and who witnessed said scene.”
Its fruit was symbolically equivalent to the human heart , and cacao represented the blood that circulates through our body.
In the letters that Hernán Cortés sent to Carlos V, he assured him that a single cup of Xocolatl was enough to sustain the forces of a soldier for a whole day's march. It was in 1528 when Cortés took it and showed it for the first time in Europe, where cocoa was transformed into chocolate. :(
In the 18th century, the naturalist Carolus Linnaeus, based on the beliefs of the Mayans and Aztecs, named the cacao tree with the scientific name of Theobroma Cacao , whose meaning is “Food of the Gods”.
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