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Food of the Gods

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Food of the Gods

Crêpes and chocolate are a match made in heaven. We’re celebrating the story of chocolate, from the Olmecs, Maya and Aztecs, to Europe and beyond.

We know from our experience with pancakes, crêpes and blinis that often it’s the simplest of foods that find their way into our hearts. Chocolate is no exception. Chocolate week from 14 – 20th October is the perfect excuse to tuck in and find out more about our love affair with this simply divine substance. 

There’s certainly something heavenly about the cocoa bean. The Mayans were on to its magical properties as far back as the 6th Century, if not earlier. They venerated the cocoa pod as a symbol of life and fertility, calling it ‘the food of the gods’ and decorating their palaces and temples with stone carvings of the sacred bean.

In Mexico, the infatuation appears to have even deeper roots, stretching back to the country’s first major civilization – the Olmecs – and earlier.

Ceramic vessels at archeological sites on Mexico’s Pacific coast were found to contain remnants of cocoa, suggesting that the pre-Olmecs were enjoying an ancient version of drinking chocolate as long ago as 1900 BC.

The Aztecs credited their god Quetzalcoatl with the gift of the cocoa plant, saying that he descended to earth on a beam of the morning star, carrying with him a cocoa plant which he had stolen from paradise. They used the holy bean to concoct xocoatl, a thick, cold, unsweetened drink which they extolled as a health elixir.

Columbus sampled the Aztec drink, but it was Spanish conquistador Henry Cortés who really ignited the European love affair with chocolate by adding sugar, vanilla and spices to the Aztecs’ bitter beverage, sweetening it up for a European palate.

And so the choco-mania began.

In the mid-1600s the chocolate craze spread from Spain to France, where Parisians swooned over its aphrodisiac properties. The first chocolate house opened in London in 1657 and it was only a matter of time before the rest of Europe had been seduced. With the Industrial Revolution came new processes for refining cocoa beans and in the 19th century John Cadbury developed the chocolate bar in the form we know it today. Now the revered bean is enjoyed around the world – it’s even been launched into space as provision for astronauts.

Like the history of the crêpe, the story of chocolate charts a culinary journey from humble beginnings to universal appreciation. This Chocolate Week, pay homage to ‘the food of the gods’ by whipping up some righteous crêpe and chocolate combos. Ready to be taken to chocolate paradise? Check out some of our heavenly chocolate and crêpe-inspired recipes in Super Sundae.