cacao collage

I have a cousin who is addicted to chocolate, instead of having a cup of coffee each morning, she has a piece of chocolate, chocolate is her coffee, it´s what helps her wake up in the morning. Although chocolate contains caffeine, a very small amount compared to coffee, psychologically she needs at least a piece of chocolate a day to function. I on the other hand use chocolate as comfort food, bad days, sad days, sick days, will have me eating a bar of chocolate, after all who can resist the creamy sensations of it melting in your mouth, it also makes me smile.  I love chocolate. It turns out that the Mayas loved chocolate also, which only helps confirm my theory that the Riviera Maya is the best place to live.

Chocolate comes from the Cacao bean, which originated somewhere in the Americas, what is now central Mexico, down through Central America.  The word Cacao originated from the Maya word Ka’kau’ and they believed that it was discovered by the gods in a mountain. Maya mythology says that the god Hunahpu gave cacao to the Maya after humans were created, from the maize plant, by the goddess Ixmucane. Each April the Mayas celebrated a festival to honor their cacao god Ek Chuah, in which they would sacrifice a dog with cacao colored markings. In fact The Associated Press just recently reported that archaeologists “found traces of a 2,500 year-old-chocolate on a plate in the Yucatan Peninsula,…” 

Historically experts believed that Cacao was used as a drink, such as the Aztec “xocoatl” made by crushing the beans and mixing them with liquids, but they have recently discovered that it was also used as a condiment. Years later, cacao is still used as a condiment, mole, a delicious sauce made with cacao and hot peppers, is a typical mouth-watering example of how my ancestors took advantage of the cacao bean.

It wasn´t until the Spanish came to Mexico that cacao became chocolate by adding sugar to it. Chocolate became very fashionable in Europe by the 17th century, only enjoyed by the rich until the late 1700’s when the invention of the steam engine finally made mass production possible.  It’s said that Casanova was a big fan of chocolate, given that it was rumored to be a good aphrodisiac, although that rumor still stands today.


Browsing through Facebook the other day, and I found a post that read “Save the Earth. It´s the only planet with chocolate.” Although I don´t need chocolate to convince me to take care of our planet, it still made me think that chocolate is in fact a very delicious treat, I have yet to meet anyone who dislikes chocolate. The Mayas were great inventors, scientists and architects, and apparently cooks, if not for their odd use of cacao, our world today might not have the advantage of enjoying mouthwatering chocolate. So please, I ask, Save the Earth. It´s the only planet with chocolate…that we know of!

Greetings from the tropical waters of the Riviera Maya!


Camila Pittman

Moskito Riviera Maya