Discovering Chocolate

Discovering Chocolate
By Ah Cacao

Where does chocolate come from? Switzerland? Belgium? Not even close! The first proven chocoholics where in fact the ancient Maya of southeast Mexico who enjoyed chocolate’s pleasures and health benefits around three thousand years ago. Drinking chocolate was so popular in prehispanic Mexico that the tradition was still going strong when the Spanish arrived in 1519. It is said that Montezuma, the last Aztec Emperor, drank 40 cups of chocolate foam every evening before visiting his harem.

Chocolate is made from cacao beans, the highly nutritious seeds of the rainforest tree Theobroma Cacao (“Food of the Gods”), native to Mexico. The Maya planted large cacao plantations in Tabasco and Chiapas, and formed trade routes to supply their outposts all over Central America. The supply of cacao was so important that the Aztecs controlled major plantations hundreds of miles from their capital.

Cacao (kah-KOW, a Mayan word) was offered as tribute to gods and leaders, as well as having value in day-to-day life as the region’s financial currency. For the Aztecs, cacao was a gift from their most revered God, Quetzalcoatl, forming a bridge between heaven and earth. A lot chocolate lovers can probably relate to this!

Today we are in the midst of a chocolate renaissance, with more and more chocolate lovers demanding “real chocolate”. Real chocolate has a high percentage of cacao with no unpleasant additives like vegetable fat and artificial flavors. Following this trend, “Ah Cacao Real Chocolate”, is a new brand of chocolate made in Mexico using the same fine flavored criollo cacao that the Maya enjoyed (“Ah Cacao” is Mayan for “King Chocolate”). Criollo (cree-OH-yo) is known as the ‘flavor’ variety of cacao, even though today it accounts for less than 5% of the world’s cacao production. The Ah Cacao Criollo Bar is an all-natural dark chocolate bar containing over 70% cacao (compared to less than 15% for most supermarket brands) permitting a true appreciation of the wonderfully complex taste of fine cacao. Very sophisticated.

And if you find your body starts to crave the great taste of real chocolate, maybe it's because it's good for you! Like red wine, real chocolate is rich in antioxidants that fight aging and cancer. Real chocolate also appears to lower blood cholesterol levels and contains a host of other minerals and nutrients that stimulate both body and mind. In fact on the TV show “Oprah” they recently suggested that to stay healthy and happy, everyone should be eating an ounce or two of dark chocolate a day. Interesting that the Maya were saying that hundreds of years ago!

For further reading, we highly recommend:
  • The True History of Chocolate by Sophie and Michael D. Coe
  • Article by Mónica Tello and Rohan Barnett, founders of Ah Cacao Real Chocolate

Ah Cacao Real Chocolate is available in:
  • Ah Cacao Chocolate Café, 5th Avenue and Constituyentes, Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo, México
  • Xcaret Eco-Archaelogical Theme Park, 5km South of Playa del Carmen, Q. Roo, Mexico
  • Xel-Há Ecological Theme Park, 15km North of Tulum, Q. Roo, Mexico
  • Plaza La Fiesta, La IslaLa Isla Shopping Center, Zona Hotelera KM 12.5, Cancún, Mexico
  • Plaza La Fiesta, Centro de ConvencionesFrente del Centro de Convenciones, Zona Hotelera KM 8, Cancún, Mexico
  • Plaza La Fiesta, The ForumThe Forum Shopping Center, Zona Hotelera, Cancún, Mexico
  • Plaza La Fiesta, 5a x 45ta Ave. between streets 4 and 6, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
  • Plaza La Fiesta, Paseo del CarmenPaseo del Carmen Shopping Center, Ferry Pier, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
  • Hotel Maya Kobá, Maya Kobá, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

    Photo courtesy of Ah Cacao