Saint Valentine’s Day and some other celebrations, is not something that interested me at all, instead of making ways to celebrate important, I always say I am Mother, Daughter, Girlfriend, Friend, and some more that probably I’, forgetting right now, 365 days a year, the truth is that I enjoy the surprise and show my love and affection so many times I can with the people around me, the way I like knowing that I want and I am part of their lives every day of the year.
But what surprises me most is how people in Mexico can give me plenty of versions of the history of this celebration and if I ask about the legend of cocoa and its origins in Mexico, they can’t give me some vaguely true or accurate data on the subject.
That’s why more than publish a recipe for this day on which the sales of the famous Chocolate that comes from this wonderful product called cacao go up, I preferred to share a bit about the history of this treasure that Mexico gave to the world.
Let’s talk about the legend of the origin of cocoa, that we find in the Tonalamatl, the book of wishes for the priests of the goddess Xochiquetzal, the story of when the gods pitied the work of Toltec people, decided coming down to earth to help them, teaching them the science and the arts. They decided that Quetzalcoatl, who had long insisted on helping the Toltecs, took human form and descend upon Tollan, the city of good men and workers.
And so they did: “Quetzalcoatl fell by a ray of morning star, astonishing the Toltecs to their occurrence, particularly for his clothing all made of a luminous matter, and his curly white beard, bright too. All the people realized that this appeared was not a mere mortal and, of course, paid worship, breaking its ugly and dark gods of mud.
Along with Quetzalcoatl, the god Tlaloc dominated (“the man who is inside the earth “), the owner of the rains, the giver of life and owner of souls separated from bodies. There was also Xochiquetzal (“feathered flower “), the goddess of joy and love, the wife of Tlaloc and discoverer of pulque. All the gods were good, and Quetzalcoatl taught the people knowledge, wisdom and arts, aware of the movement of the stars, which allowed them to measure the time and point in the calendar the seasons to take advantage of rains and harvest crops.
Quetzalcoatl gave the Toltecs also the gift of a plant that He stole from the gods, his brothers, whom jealously guarded because it created a drink, they thought, only were destined for them. Quetzalcoatl subtracted the small shrub with red flowers, pinned to long branches of leaves elongated, tilted toward the ground offering to it its dark fruit. Planted in the fields of Tula and asking Tlaloc to feed the tree with rain, and it Xochiquetzal adorned with flowers. The seedling was fruitful and Quetzalcoatl gathered the pods, roasting the fruit and taught to the women to grind it who followed the work of men, and beat it with water in gourds, and getting the chocolate, that in the beginning was only drank by priests and nobles.
It was sacred liquor and they drank it sour or bitter. It was later mixed with honey, and when the Spanish arrived, they added sugar and milk making it the luxury beverage of the colonial era.
Thus, Quetzalcoatl was the giver of cacao in four classes: the cauhcacahuatl, the mecacahuatl the tlalcacahuatl and the xochicacahuatl, this last one reserved to roast it, as the other three were used as currency, because the fruit was considered a symbol of riches. The Toltecs were wealthy and wise, artists and builders, enjoyed the rich chocolate and they were happy, which aroused the envy of the gods, especially when they discovered that they were drinking the beverage intended only for them.
They swore vengeance against Quetzalcoatl first and Toltec later. For that they called Tezcatlipoca – “smoking mirror”, the god of night and darkness. This God, the enemy of Quetzalcoatl, the god of light, descended to earth by the thread of a spider and, disguised as a merchant, approached Quetzalcoatl to offer him the drink Xochiquetzal had discovered.
The god of light was in his palace immensely sad, because a dream had advised him that the gods were preparing their revenge and he feared for the people he had grown rich, wise and happy. Quetzalcoatl drank the juice that was offered to him, – the octli and metl, the fermented juice of the maguey, called by the people tlachiuhtli, known now as pulque. Quetzalcoatl drank it and got drunk, to the delight of the evil Tezcatlipoca, and danced and shouted to the scandal of the people who looked at his ridiculous gestures. After he fell asleep, he woke up with bitter mouth and a deep headache, and he realized that the gods had disgraced and were preparing the ruin of the Toltecs and the fall of the glorious Tollan.
Quetzalcoatl feeling that he could never look at those who had been taught to be good and honest without having a great shame, decided to march towards the course of the evening star, his home. He then went into the sea to the once called Nonoalco – on the beaches of what is now Tabasco – and threw there for the last time, the seeds of cacao, which flourished under his hand and stood there as the latter gift from the god of light. Then he went into the sea and, using a beam of light from the evening star, he returned to his home of light.
In my opinion, this story is a true sign of love and commitment, so if you ask me, every sip of water or milk chocolate, each piece of chocolate in my mouth is a celebration of this treasure that was given to the Mexicans and that we share with the entire world just like, according to the legend, Quetzalcoatl did with us.