Chocol Haa Maya

11 Feb

Chocolate. All you need is that one word for aficionados to go mad. But the chocolate we found in Valadolid is not like any I have savored before. This is the more bitter Mayan chocolate, Chocol Haa Maya, “the caress of the gods.”

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While exploring on the Calle de los Frailes (the street of the monks) in Valadolid, we came upon an artisanal Mayan chocolate co-operative. Here 100 percent pure cacao, honey and a touch of sugar is rolled into a small ball of chalky medium brown substance that is packaged and sold to profit the cooperative members.

Mayans were the first on this continent to discover the wonder of chocolate (later stolen by the Aztecs.) Mayans harvested the seeds, or beans, from cacao trees, roasted them, removed their shells and ground them into paste. They often combined this paste with water, cornmeal, chili peppers and other herbs and spices then poured the bitter mixture back and forth between two bowls to create a frothy head. There might also be some natural hallucinogenics added depending on the ceremony.  This mixture when consumed filled the drinker with a warm glow or Apacho meaning a hugging of the soul.

As we slowly explored a warren of small rooms accompanied by our personal guide we found three women seated behind a glass wall, hand-rolling the Mayan chocolate mixture. That day sesame seeds, chili pepper, salt and oregano were being added to the separate batches of chocolate.  These simple small balls would later be made into a hot or cold cacao drink with milk or water or eaten hand-over-fist (my method) straight from the box.DSC01627Our tour ended in a little patio where Dana and I each ordered a hot chocolate. We chose chili blend…very zippy…but not so much so that it overwhelmed the rich chocolate. DSC01618The Mayan tradition was alive in the room as we sipped away.

3 Responses to “Chocol Haa Maya”

  1. Joyce Tate February 18, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    Sounds absolutely fabulous! I remember the chocolate exhibit in Santa Fe a year or two ago.

    • Jill February 19, 2016 at 2:17 am #

      Not like any chocolate I have ever had before. So interesting.

  2. Barbara and Ernie Werren February 14, 2016 at 5:50 pm #

    How timely! Our Denver Museum of Nature and Science has just opened its exhibit, “Chocolate”, all about the Maya and Aztec as well as the European passion for the yummy stuff! Did you know that the Swiss eat the most chocolate of any people in the world, about twice what the Americans eat? Don’t know about the Mexicans! I am a docent in the special exhibitions of the museum, so am learning all about chocolate!

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