The Origins of Chocolate Chocolate etymology: One possibility is chokola’j – Mayan for "to drink [the beverage we would consider chocolate] communally." Often cited is a Natuatl word – chocolatl or xocolate. And another is a Spanish combination of Mayan chocol and Aztec word atl, meaning “water." Chocolate naming: Chocolate is named for the country or region in which the cacao is grown. Chocolate makers refer to the beans in the same way. The percent designation refers to the amount of cacao is in the finished bar. Varieties of Theobroma cacao: Criollo is the oldest variety – known for its complex flavors. Forastero, meaning “foreigner,” is sturdier but inferior. Trinitario is a hybrid of Criollo and Forastero. And Nacional is a spicy, Ecuadorian variety.
(From left) Danielle Centeno, Esaczú’s head chocolatier; The vintage mélanger, imported from Spain. Opposite page (From left): Showing how similar cacao can look to small stones that sometimes make it into the sacks of bean;
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