Tradition of the drink of the gods
The ancestral cultures prepared a drink called Xocolat. Battered with gold mills, its fruits were roasted and ground together with corn, mixed with water and then served in ornate ceramic vessels.
Latin America has a long tradition of drinking hot chocolate, surely the ritual still preserved by Colombians, of drinking hot chocolate in the mornings, has its roots in the Aztecs.
Florentine Codex, Book 6
Among the numerous foods that America contributed to the world, cocoa is one of the most significant and symbolic.
Not only because it is one of the indigenous products that most identify the American territory, because although the primitive history of cocoa is a matter of conjecture and there has always been discussion about the origin of this plant, some versions place it in the equatorial forests and in the Amazon valleys, while others, locate it as a tropical plant native to Mexico (ultimately both theories are true, since they refer to different types of cocoa), what is beyond doubt is that it is an indigenous plant of the American continent, which had been cultivated for several centuries before the arrival of the Spanish and that at the beginning of the sixteenth century chocolate was widely consumed by the Aztecs and Mayans.
But also for its extraordinary and early spread throughout the world. With the Spanish colonization there will be the so-called “creolization” of chocolate, because instead of adding pepper, corn or pepper as the Indians did, resulting in a bitter drink, the Spaniards added sugar and spices such as cinnamon, sesame, vanilla, etc. Thus, a process of transformation that continues to the present day begins.
A product from America, currently produced mainly in Africa and Asia, and consumed mostly in Europe: such could be, in short, the result of 500 years of history of a product whose scientific name is Theobroma L. Cacao, known by the natives as “the food of the gods”.
It would be difficult to find a food product of greater symbolic value, because ultimately the history of cocoa and chocolate is the story of the meeting of the Old and the New World: it is the history of miscegenation.
Cocoa arrives in Europe in 1519 after the visit of Hernán Cortés to the Moctezuma court in Tenochtitlan.
There he found 50 jars of drink next to golden cups where they were served. These products were brought to Spain and received a reputation as aphrodisiac: for its bitter taste was used as a medicine for the stomach.
The long history of cocoa originates in the Upper Amazon, what we know today as Colombia and Ecuador, from there it moved towards the Mesoamerican, Olmec and Mayan civilizations, which domesticated their fruits and made them the food of the gods.
It was the Aztec nobility who called it “Kak’aw”, which meant “Drink of the gods”, the conquerors understood “cocoa”, a fruit which they valued more than precious stones, silver and gold.
Colombia, tropical country, located on the equatorial line, presents incomparable conditions for the sowing of cocoa, in an interesting variety of agroecological systems that make this heterogeneous country have an excellent potential for the development of the cocoa crop.
In the beginning, Colombia distinguished itself by the high quality of the grain that came from the criollo type, characterized by its finesse, delicate flavor and aroma.
Historical references indicate that cocoa is cultivated in Colombia since colonial times, becoming an exporter of grain, a condition that was maintained until 1920, when it ceased to be so. Later, in the mid-80s, it was successfully commercialized abroad.
Cocoa cultivation in the Coffee Region, Belalcázar “Balcony of the landscape”
Belalcázar is a municipality located in the south west of Caldas, formerly a municipality with a coffee vocation, but climate change has meant that these lands are not optimal for this crop. Luckily, thanks to the agro-ecological conditions of the area, the cultivation of cocoa occurs organically in these areas.
Its privileged location between the Cauca River Valley and the Risaralda River valley, the surrounding crops of fruit trees, and all the biodiversity conditions give the cocoa its magical touch.
The denomination Fine of Aroma is a classification of the International Organization of the Cocoa (ICCO) that describes a cacao of exquisite aroma and flavor. This type of cocoa represents around 8% of the cocoa production in the world. In Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Peru, 76% of the world’s Aroma Fine Cocoa is produced.
The Fine Cocoa of Aroma presents its own characteristics in its aroma and fruity, floral, nut and malt flavor, attributes that differentiate it from the other cocoas.
The special characteristics of the flavor and aroma of cocoa do not only come from the type of cocoa; but also of the climate conditions, the composition of the soil, the region where it is grown and mainly the work of the cocoa artisan, the farmer
There are 4 essential factors for the flavors and aroma of chocolate to emerge: fermentation, drying, roasting and conching.