This delightful tale of one of the world’s favorite foods draws on botany, archaeology, and culinary history to present a complete and accurate history of chocolate.
It begins some 4,000 years ago in the jungles of Mexico and Central America with the chocolate tree, Theobroma Cacao, and the complex processes necessary to transform its bitter seeds into what is now known as chocolate. This was centuries before chocolate was consumed in generally unsweetened liquid form and used as currency by the Maya and the Aztecs after them. The Spanish conquest of Central America introduced chocolate to Europe, where it first became the drink of kings and aristocrats and then was popularized in coffeehouses. Industrialization in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries made chocolate available to all, and now, in our own time, it has become once again a luxury item.
The third edition includes new photographs and revisions throughout that reflect the latest scholarship. A new final chapter on a Guatemalan chocolate producer, located within the Pacific coastal area where chocolate was first invented, brings the volume up-to-date.
Sophie D. Coe
Sophie D. Coe was an anthropologist and food historian. Her book America’s First Cuisines was published in 1994 to universal acclaim.
Michael D. Coe
Michael D. Coe is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University. His books include The Maya, Mexico, Breaking the Maya Code, Angkor and the Khmer Civilization, and Reading the Maya Glyphs. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
Chocolate – ‘the food of the Gods’ – has had a long and eventful history. Its story is expertly told here by the doyen of Maya studies, Michael Coe, and his late wife, Sophie. The book begins 3,000 years ago in the Mexican jungles and goes on to draw on aspects of archaeology, botany and socio-economics. Used as currency and traded by the Aztecs, chocolate arrived in Europe via the conquistadors, and was soon a favourite drink with aristocrats. By the 19th century and industrialization, chocolate became a food for the masses – until its revival in our own time as a luxury item.
This book features tantalising information on the first cultivation of the cacao tree in the northwest Amazon, and the discovery of the chocolate process in southern Mesoamerica, long before the rise of the Olmecs. Chocolate has also been giving up some of its secrets to modern neuroscientists, who have been investigating how flavour perception is mediated by the human brain. The book also contains two contemporary accounts of how chocolate manufacturers have (or have not) been dealing with the ethical side of the industry.