Cacao may be Mexico’s greatest gift to the world—forever earning the favor of the human palate with its derivative delicacy, chocolate.
This picky plant prefers a narrow band of just 20 latitude degrees to the north or south of equator. The Maya commercialized the crop more than 2,000 years ago, rising above their ancestors who merely sucked the fatty, white coating off cacao nuts and discarded the inner seed. Rather, the Maya began to dry and toast the seeds for food and to be held as valuable currency. When the Spanish arrived, they knew a good thing when they tasted it. Soon, sugar and milk transformed the traditional products to the chocolate known today around the world. Yet, Mexico’s indigenous cultures still enjoy traditional cacao drinks such as tejate and sauces like mole negro and mole poblano.