[Sca-cooks] Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao

Johnna Holloway johnna at sitka.engin.umich.edu
Wed Oct 17 06:43:07 PDT 2007

Here's another new 2007 book that may interest some people.


  Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao.
Edited by Cameron L. McNeil. 544 pages
  $75.00   *ISBN 13: *978-0-8130-2953-5   *ISBN 10: *0-8130-2953-8

"A monumental contribution to the study of a plant food of basic
importance from pre-Columbian times to the present in the Americas and
now the world. . . . It will be the baseline for studies of chocolate in
the Americas and the world for the foreseeable future."--Rene Millon,
professor emeritus, University of Rochester

"McNeil brings together scholars in the
fields of archaeology, history, art history, linguistics, epigraphy,
botany, chemistry, and cultural anthropology to explore the
domestication, preparation, representation, and significance of cacao in
ancient and modern communities of the Americas, with a concentration on
its use in Mesoamerica.

Cacao was used by many cultures in the pre-Columbian Americas as an
important part of rituals associated with birth, coming of age,
marriage, and death, and was strongly linked with concepts of power and
rulership. While Europeans have for hundreds of years claimed that they
introduced "chocolate" as a sauce for foods, evidence from ancient royal
tombs indicates cacao was used in a range of foods as well as beverages
in ancient times. In addition, the volume's authors present information
that supports a greater importance for cacao in pre-Columbian South
America, where ancient vessels depicting cacao pods have recently been

Cameron McNeil earned her doctorate in anthropology from the Graduate
Center, City University of New York, and currently conducts research in
Copan, Honduras.


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