The Chocolate in Spain
The history of chocolate in Spain is a part of the Hispanic culinary history ranging from the sixteenth century, when the Spaniards met the Cocoa (Theobroma Cacao) to begin the colonization of America. In 1517 Don Cortes set sail from Cuba, seeking fame and fortune in the “New World”. Landing on the Mexican coast near Veracruz, he decided to make his way to Tenochtitlan to see for himself the famed riches of Emperor Montezuma and the Aztec Empire.
It was Montezuma who introduced Don Cortes to his favourite drink ‘chocolatl,’ served in a golden goblet. Montezuma is said to have consumed several goblets of ‘chocolatl’ before entering his harem, leading to the mythical belief that it had aphrodisiac properties.
In May 1520, the Spanish attacked a peaceful Aztec festival. Montezuma was killed but by July the Aztecs had forced the Spanish out of the city of Tenochtitlan. After regaining their strength, the Spanish and their allies held the city siege for 75 days and, when it fell, it marked the end of the Aztec civilization.
Cortes was made Captain General and Governor of Mexico. When he returned to Spain in 1528, he loaded his galleons with cocoa beans and chocolate drink-making equipment.
The introduction of this ingredient in the Spanish culinary customs was certainly immediate, compared with other ingredients brought from America, and its popularity and acceptance in all sectors of Spanish society, already reached very high levels in the late sixteenth century. Since its inception, the chocolate was considered by the Spaniards as a drink and remained in that concept until early twentieth century.
Once Don Cortes had provided the Spanish with a supply of cocoa beans and the equipment to make the chocolate drink, a Spanish version of the recipe was devised. Monks in monasteries known for their pharmaceutical skills were chosen to process the beans and adjust the drink to Spanish tastes. Cinnamon, nutmeg and cane sugar were added, the chilli pepper was omitted and it was discovered that chocolate tasted even better served hot.
For nearly a hundred years, since its inception in ports Andalusia, The chocolate beverage became popular as in Spain. In this period the furor over the chocolate was made served as a drink in the court ut, while formula was unknown in the rest of the continent. Subsequently, the chocolate spread from Spain to the rest of Europe, and the countries that first adopted Italy, and then France.
usual scene in the XVII century Chocolate preparation (Xocolatada).
Monasterio de Piedra constituted as the first origin of chocolate and where it was first developed in Europe. It is told that in 1524 Cortes supplied the first seeds of cacao along with the recipe for making chocolate to a monk named Císter Fray Jeronimo de Aguilar.
Arriving in Spain Fray Jerome gave this product the abbot of the monastery Stone, who soon made chocolate a food of great fame and tradition not only in his monastery, but also in all the houses of his order. Chocolate soon became an article highly appreciated by the Spanish high society of the sixteenth century, who consumed it as a hot and tonic drink. The ladies of the nobility considered it an exotic treat, drinking it secretly seasoned with various spices such as pepper, while the high Mexican society was more accustomed to mix it with cinnamon.
It was with the introduction of sugar cane in warm regions of America that laid the foundation to create the sweet chocolate, which gave a similar taste what we know today and soon the “chocolatadas – celebrations ” were organized on a large scale and became very popular on both sides of the Atlantic.
Aside for the opinion of the Church, the Galleons returned to Spain laden with riches from America, and the base of chocolate and cocoa constituted a select and high value product.
The popularity of the drink in the Spanish society until the nineteenth century can be seen reflected in various annotations travelers who visited the Iberian Peninsula.
It was said that “for the Spanish chocolate is what the tea for English.”
Thus, the chocolate managed to become a National symbol. The crowd as excessive for rum made the coffee it belatedly incorporated into the Spanish culinary traditions, compared with the addition that it had in other European countries.
In Spain the chocolate was considered exclusively as a refreshing drink and was barely used in other culinary aspects, and there are rare exceptions of Spanish classic dishes where cocoa between as an ingredient. Behind the Spanish Civil War the custom was gradually declining in favor of coffee consumption. Today the chocolate companies, chocolatiers and museums are leaving traces the history of this drink in Spain.