[Sca-cooks] 16th Century recipes for Chocolate

Craig Daniel teucer at pobox.com
Tue Dec 8 08:19:25 PST 2009

On Tue, Dec 8, 2009 at 3:28 AM, Stefan li Rous
<StefanliRous at austin.rr.com> wrote:
> Craig Daniel (Sorry, I don't remember your persona name, and you didn't sign
> your message) said:

No worries.

(Though, for the curious, my SCA name - albeit not yet registered - is
Jaume de Monçó. I'm 16th-century Catalan.)

> <<< That said, I love me some Chocolate or an Indian Drinke, which is the
> first recipe I know of for something that is documentably late period
> but missing actual pre-1600 recipes. >>>
> We do have some recipes for chocolate drinks from before 1600 CE. We have
> more from the 17th century, but we do have some from the 16th.

Really? Excellent! Wadsworth's "Indian Drinke" version is the closest
I'd ever even heard mentioned, and I'd heard it was the earliest, but
maybe that's just because it's the best known old one.

I know what I'm drinking as the winter grows colder...

> The seller of fine chocolate is one who grinds,
> who provides people with drink, with repasts.
> She grinds cacao; she crushes, breaks, pulverizes them.
> She chooses, selects, separates them.
> She drenches, soaks, steeps them.
> She adds water sparingly, conservatively;
> aerates it, filters it, strains it, pours it back and forth, aerates it;
> She makes it form a head, makes it foam;
> She removes the head, makes it thicken;
> makes it dry, pours water in, stirs water into it.

Question: is she making unsweetened baking chocolate here, or coming
reasonably close thereto? Because this sure sounds like she's
thoroughly drying the pods, extracting the nibs, then liquifying them
(using as little water as necessary to do so), stirring the result
smooth, and drying it. But there's a lot of water going in at several
stages along the way, and that confuses me somewhat.

> She sells good, superior, potable [chocolate];
> the privilege; the drink of nobles, or rulers
> finely ground, soft, foamy, reddish, bitter;

Random side note: The "reddish" color is quite strong in Wadsworth's
recipe - he adds annatto.

> [with] chile water, with flowers,

The only chile water I'm familiar with is a Hawaiian condiment, which
I'm guessing is not intended here. Maybe if I just steep the chiles in
water I'll get something workable.

> with uei uacaztli (Cymbopetalum penduliflorum),

Hm. I've never even herd of this ingredient.

> with mecaxochitl (Piper amalago),

Wikipedia (not a great source, but an easily accessible one while I'm
first collecting my thoughts about a recipe) informs me that
mecaxochitl is hoja santa, an herb available in many Mexican
groceries, as it's used in authentic Oaxacan cuisine - and WP tells me
one of its uses modernly is to make chocolate. Unfortunately WP also
tells me it's supposed to be Piper auritum.

> with wild bee honey, with powdered aeromatic flowers.

More unspecified flowers. Hm.

> [Inferior chocolate has] maize flour and water; lime water;

So, don't add tortilla meal to my chocolate. Heh.

> [it is] pale; the [froth] bubbles burst.
> [It is chocolate] with water added –
> Chontal water
> [fit for] water flies.
> Barnardino de Sahagún, c.1500-1590, Franciscan missionary

Unlike the 1652 version, this doesn't give quantities. But I could
totally consult that for insight unless I find an older version that

Once I get good results, I'll post a redaction.

 - Jaume

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