Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Who discovered cacao

When I started to do my research about cacao - its discovery and evolution - the first term I encountered was "Olmecs."  Curious, I scoured the web about Olmces and time passed by without me noticing it. 

According to historians the Olmecs were the first inhabitants of Mesoamerica (composed of Central and South America) and at the time it was the only region where cacao could be found.  Overtime Mesoamerica extended to Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

(The Olmecs were great artists and sculptors. This massive head is an evidence of Olmec art. Image not mine.)


The first civilizations of the Americas, Olmecs of Mexico (1400 BC-400 BC) were also the first to know the process of fermentation, roasting, and grinding cacao beans for drinks - process that is still followed today.  Because of the bitter taste of ground cacao beans the Olmecs added flavorings like chili, flowers, and herbs.  There are cafes now that serve hot chocolate (using commercial cacao powder) with chili if you want to know how it tastes although I know nothing comes close to the full flavor of freshly ground cacao beans in hot chocolate.  But for experience's sake try it and transport yourself to the times and days of the Olmecs.

There's so many interesting things to share about the Olmecs but I hope this little bit of information will suffice for now.  Had it not been for the Olmecs we wouldn't have enjoyed our favorite chocolate today. 

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