It was thanks to Christopher Columbus that Europeans first set eyes on the seed of the chocolate tree.
On August 15, 1502, the first European encounter with cacao took place when Columbus, on his fourth voyage, came across a great Maya trading canoe with cacao beans amongst its cargo.
Columbus's son Ferdinand later wrote of that fateful day that a reconnaissance party went ashore at Guanaja, when there suddenly appeared a tremendous dugout canoe. In his written account, Ferdinand goes on to say:
they had many of those almonds [sic] which in [Mexico] are used for money. They seemed to hold these almonds at great price; for I observed that whenever any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up as if an eye had fallen.
Referring, of course, to cacao seeds.
Christopher Columbus never tasted chocolate. Four years later he died in Spain.
What happened to cacao next? When did it finally become the chocolate we know and love today? To find out more, subscribe to this blog. Or, if you can't wait for the answer, we recommend you read The True History of Chocolate by Sophie D. Coe, and Michael D. Coe. You can find copies for purchase in our shop at 221 West 79th St., or online at Amazon.
Coe, Sophie D., and Michael D. Coe. "Encounter and Transformation." The True History of Chocolate. New York: Thames and Hudson, 1996. N. pag. Print.
Voilà Chocolat would also like to recognize October 12, 2015 as Indigenous People's Day.