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The Mesoamericans probably didn't have marshmallows, but we won't tell anybody if you add them. (Stephanie Bond)

Forget the Paleo Diet, Make Yourself Some Mesoamerican Hot Chocolate

Skip the contents of that deer stomach, or whatever other weird diet you’re on, and get yourself some cocoa beans

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Forget the paleodiet. If you want to eat like people did long ago, what you really want this winter is the Mesoamerican hot chocolate diet. Okay, you should probably also eat other foods, but if you want to make hot chocolate like the ancient Mesoamericans, here’s how.

Sarah Lohman, a historic gastronomist, has the recipe over at Etsy. She writes:

Chocolate was first consumed in liquid form in ancient Mesoamerica. Cocoa pods were harvested and fermented; then, the seeds were roasted and ground with a metate, a stone grinding tool also used to process corn. After being mixed with water, the chocolate was served hot or cold with added flavorings like vanilla beans, ground chili, honey, or a spicy tree-flower that had a taste similar to black pepper and nutmeg. Barely processed and only occasionally sweetened, the hot chocolate of the Maya and the Aztecs sounded so different than our modern drink that I was inspired to try making it myself.

Apparently, sticking to the traditional methods requires pouring liquid hot chocolate between two different containers at different heights. Which is predictably messy, but has an important function. “Pouring the chocolate back and forth aerates and froths the drink as it falls through space, like the waterfall in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory,” Lohman writes. Another way to froth your hot chocolate is to use a molinillo, a wooden stick that looks kind of like a back massager. By using raw cocoa beans and traditional methods Lohman was able to recreate something that looked pretty authentic, and tasted, well...here’s what it tasted like:

My first sip was shockingly bitter and acidic, even with the added honey and vanilla. But the more I sipped, I realized I didn’t like it at first because it was different than my expectation of what hot chocolate should taste like. The sour drink was more like coffee, an acquired taste. The more I drank it, the more I liked it. After six sips, I found the flavor complex and satisfying, and I felt invigorated.

So skip the contents of that deer stomach, or whatever other weird diet you’re on, and get yourself some cocoa beans. 

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About Rose Eveleth
Rose Eveleth

Rose Eveleth is a writer for Smart News and a producer/designer/ science writer/ animator based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Scientific American, Story Collider, TED-Ed and OnEarth.

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