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Montezuma’s Ice Cream

Tlatoani Montezuma II. (1593-1520), also called Xocoyotzin (Revered Younger), was one of the greatest rulers of the Aztec Empire. This extremely controversial figure convinced his subjects of his divine origin. In other words, he portrayed himself as the earthly messenger of the god Quetzalcoatl, whose return the Aztecs eagerly awaited. Montezuma wore a feathered ceremonial crown named Quetzalapanecayotl, which contained 400 feathers of the sacred quetzal bird, to further emphasize its divine roots.

Montezuma was a vain person, prone to bodily pleasures. According to tradition, he kept almost a billion cocoa beans in his coffers. Apart from being a means of payment, he also used these beans to prepare liquid chocolate, popularly called Montezuma’s ice cream. Montezuma himself is the inventor of this chocolate delicacy, which was most often found on his morning menu.
What was that xocoatl like?

When his hedonistic soul craved chocolate pleasure, he issued an order to prepare it. Then a specially trained detachment of royal sprinters would rush to the nearby volcanic heights for a dose of snow. At the same time, experienced chefs would prepare a thick paste of dried, roasted and ground (on a metate) cocoa beans, to which they would add chili peppers and pollen. This mixture would be poured over the delivered snow, mixed well, and served as a cold frothy chocolate drink. Montezuma enjoyed this dessert by drinking it from a golden goblet called copa.
According to one legend, Montezuma drank over 50 jugs of cold chocolate a day. He would throw the golden jugs into the lake after consumption. He then headed to a harem of 600 concubines, where he put into action a good portion of his daily schedule of duties.

It is this legend that is one of the fundamental beliefs about chocolate as a seductive drink. When chocolate finally arrived and conquered the demanding palates of European courtiers in the 16th and 17th centuries, the old Aztec belief in the aphrodisiac properties of chocolate persisted.

Martina Hukavec Vlašić, mag. hist., 11.08.2021


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