Choco choco, from spices to sweets?

     Earlier today I went to visit MFA, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I was particularly interested in the exhibit entitled The Americas and was pleased to have a guided tour. The tour guide talked about the Mayas civilization from the 3 vases that were in front of our eyes. The vases were made by the same artist of that era, they had the same patterns and same stylistic design. What was fascinating about them is that they aren’t just simple vases. Firstly, it is believed that they were given as gifts to a very important person because the patterns depict same of the daily scenes and beliefs of the Mayas. And secondly they were drinking instruments used during rare ceremonial occasions, and we know that by the sophisticated and fancy designs encrusted on them.

     So, what is it with chocolate? Well, everybody loves chocolate. We can see that by following the way chocolate was transformed from region to region, era to era and from culture to another. Chocolate started with the Mayas. They discovered (invented) it by grinding cacao grains, mixing with water, some vanilla and even spices to top up the flavor. They drunk it for special occasions and even used it as soup, porridge for their meals. When the Spanish came to colonize the Maya people, they actually enjoyed it to the point of taking it back to Europe. Chocolate underwent serious transformations for centuries to finally come back to America in a totally different form, taste and even use. At the end of the tour, I kept thinking, does anything ever last? A culture? How could we preserve a cultural heritage with today’s globalized world? Is it possible to be economically globalized, and not culturally? What does that even mean?

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