Back, way back, way back in time, the ancient Aztecs used cacao seeds for spiritual and ceremonial purposes, as when sacrificial victims were given cacao drinks mixed with human blood in order to prepare them to have their heart cut out and held up, still beating, to the Sun.
For thousands of years cacao was considered their most valuable food, especially as they associated chocolate with Quetzalcoatl the feathered serpent god who, according to legend, was cast away by the other gods for sharing chocolate with humans.
Also used as currency, 30 cacao beans would buy you a rabbit or 70 beans, a turkey.
Actually in those times, having your heart removed forcibly from your chest was not the worst thing that could happen to you by any means, but we needn’t go into the Rain Creation Rituals here. This is meant to be a happy place. Don’t Google them unless you’re in a gruesome kind of mood.
The thin, bitter drink they made was sweetened with honey and vanilla by the Spanish invaders and became popular in the European courts by the seventeenth century.
Joseph Fry made the first chocolate bars in 1847, and in 1875 Swiss chocolatier Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate by mixing powdered milk with the chocolate mixture, joining forces with baby food manufacturer Henri Nestlé to form the Nestlé Chocolate Company.
Fast forward to 2008, when the worlds most expensive box of chocolates went on sale at Harrods for £5,000 – studded with crystals and flowers but you only got 49 chocolates which sounds like a ripoff to me. No word on whether they contained human blood, Aztec-style.
Actually, the best box of chocolates in history was the Russell Stover heart-shaped box of delicious nougats which played “Love Me Tender” by Elvis Presley when you opened it, followed up by the velvet-trimmed coffin chocolate box from Hotel Chocolat they made as a Halloween novelty around 5 years ago.
I still have that box, and plan to bury a small animal in it one day.
Aztec Chocolate Martini
1 shot vodka
1 shot chocolate liqueur or chocolate schnapps
3 drops Tobasco chili sauce
Cherries & cocoa powder to garnish
Combine ingredients in a chilled shaker with ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into a classic Martini glass rimmed with cocoa powder and garnish with cherries which represent the drops of blood added to the ritual sacrificial cup.
Bang your glass on the table to knock out the ghosts, then raise it in a toast to Tezcatlipoca – the god of night, sorcery and destiny. Ideally shatter the glass after drinking as an offering to him.
In the Aztec empire, it was illegal to be drunk in public unless you were over 70 years old, so as these are very powerful you may wish to imbibe them at home, just to be on the safe side.
Unless you are over 70, in which case, go nuts! This Friday is National Milk Chocolate Day, so your timing is perfect.