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About Me

Welcome to our Chocolate Boutique: Xocolatl which means bitter water or bitter drink in Aztec, but now let me introduce myself,

My hometowns Main Square

I'm Esther, wife, and mother of an unstopable 3 year old boy Alex, we live in upstate NY. I love the countryside, love my husband, son, chickens and our little Chocolate Boutique. I was born in the Basque Country, a little piece or rugged land stuck betwen Southern France and Northen Spain. But almost ten years ago I moved to the States and this is how the Xocolatl exprerience started:

Orduña's Surrounding Mountains

Orduña, my hometown.

There can’t be many people who can resist the temptation of a delicious bar of chocolate. It’s one of life’s great pleasures and, if you ask me, it should be given out free of charge just to make people’s lives that little bit more enjoyable. Sadly, we have to pay for it, but it’s worth every penny. The cocoa bean, from which we derive this delectable treat, has a long and wonderfully romantic history, stretching back over 2,000 years. It has featured prominently in every era since, as people have sought, craved and devoured this delicacy.

The mighty Aztecs and Mayans reined supreme over vast tracts of Mesoamerica and cocoa can take at least some of the praise for the later success of these great civilisations. In these days before bank accounts and dollar bills, cocoa was actually used as a form of currency. I don’t think I would have been a particularly good banker if I’d been around in those days; I’d have eaten all the cash before it could be exchanged for anything else. However, it seems I’m not the only one with a soft spot for chocolate. One of the Aztec Emperors of the time – Montezuma – was said to get through a fair few cups of chocolate every day. Still, I suppose he had a ready enough supply of the stuff that he could keep a stash for his own consumption and still made a good profit with the remainder. Most people could only dream of enjoying chocolate as a luxury drink. The seeds were so valuable that they would have been used for trading. Still, I suppose an Emperor has to have a few perks.

Chocolate in those days wouldn’t be easily recognisable as the bars we enjoy today. It was mainly taken as a drink and, bearing in mind there wasn’t any sugar around, it was more of a bitter brew than the sweet beverage we think of today. The cocoa seeds were roasted and ground to a powder that was made into a drink. They did add flavourings but these would have been spices such as pepper or chilli. It was even occasionally dyed a dark red colour and used as part of rituals and special celebrations.

The cocoa bean was first discovered in the sultry forests of Central and South America. Like many of these things, I wonder how on earth anyone realised that these strange looking pods could be harvested and processed into something edible and I guess we’ll never know the answer to that. We can only be grateful that whatever process of trial and error they went through eventually led to chocolate. I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised at the ingenuity of those who first created chocolate, as it was the ancient civilisations of the Maya and Aztecs who are credited as being the original chocolatiers. These people were innovators extraordinaire and if anyone was likely to reveal the sumptuous secrets of the cocoa pod, it was them. Their secret wasn’t safe for too long, however, as the Spanish conquistadors took some of the pods (amongst other things) back home with them and the magic of chocolate spread to Europe.

For many years, chocolate remained a secret of the Americas as the Mayan and Aztec cultures enjoyed the fruits of the cocoa tree and supped away on cups of frothy chilli chocolate. However, with the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors, life for these civilisations became a little more fraught. As cities were pillaged for their riches, the cocoa bean was discovered and taken on a voyage to Europe where it was introduced to high society.

Typical 17th-century scene showing the preparation of chocolate
The secrets of the cocoa bean and the processing of chocolate were quickly learnt and the fame of this wonderful new delicacy swiftly spread throughout Spain. It was so popular that it became difficult to keep up with the demand, however, incredibly, cocoa remained largely a Spanish delicacy for almost 100 years, as the Spanish managed to keep one of the world’s best-kept secrets and enjoy chocolate all to themselves. They also realised that by adding sugar to the ground cocoa, you could create a sweet drink. This was far more appealing to people than the bitter brew and it made chocolate one of the most sought-after and trends beverages of the age. Once again though, it was only the rich and famous who could afford it and the common folk missed out on yet another treat.

Eventually the secret got out and soon the chocolate buzz had spread all over Europe. As demand grew, plantations were created in the colonies and cocoa trees were planted and harvested on a massive scale to satisfy the sweet tooth of the European.

This is our passion, so if you like, join us in this exploring trip through cocoa and chocolate...

I have a wandering mind, always thinking of new things to do, see and try...
I also love antique books!!! treasures of time.

Thanks for reading...