The Bridge - Page 16

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CASTILE GOES CRAZY OVER CACOA CONQUEST

Bishop in PLeas for abstinance

The popularity of the drink among noble women was such that, not content with drinking it several times a day, they requested drinking it in church as well.

Christopher Columbus returned from his latest mission to the Americas, he seized a large native canoe containing cacao beans. A spokesman from the crew of Columbus said it was clear the natives greatly valued the beans, which he termed almonds, "for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen.

Our national Conquisdador Hernán Cortés encountered chocolate when he observed it in the court ofMontezuma . Bernal Diaz, who accompanied Cortés in the conquest of Mexico, wrote

“From time to time they served Montezuma in cups of pure gold a certain drink made from cacao. It was said that it gave one power over women. I did see them bring in more than fifty large pitchers of cacao with froth in it, and he drank some of it, the women serving with great reverence

Jose de Acosta, a Spanish Jesuit missionary who lived in Peru and then Mexico in the later 16th century, described its use more generally:

as precois as your eye

This frothy drink very much esteemed among the Indians, where with they feast noble men who pass through their country. The Spaniards, both men and women that are accustomed to the country are very greedy of this Chocolate. They say they make diverse sorts of it, some hot, some cold, and some temperate, and put therein much of that "chili"; yea, they make paste thereof, the which they say is good for the stomach and against the catarrh.

Following the glorious conquest of the Aztecs, chocolate was brought to Europe. Here, it has quickly became a court favourite, still served as a beverage, but with the addition of sugar or honey or even cinnamon, ground black pepper or aniseed to counteract the natural bitterness.

cocoa Facts

1. Theobroma cacao is the scientific name

2. Cacao is the bean.

3. Cocoa trees need to be planted next to tall trees in order to protect them from direct sunlight.

4. Cocoa trees need to grow in hot and damp climates

5. It takes 3 to 5 years before the cocoa tree bears fruit. EACH TREE produces around 1,000 beans a year, but that is only enough to make just 1 kg of chocolate.