If you’re a regular reader of The Takeout (as you should be), you’ll know that I’m a bit of a history buff. I’ve gotten to the bottom of why we don’t eat swans. I’ve brought you recipes served at medieval banquets, and one that celebrates the sacred nature of Christmas pigs. I’ve dug deep into the saga of the Yukon’s famed Sourtoe cocktail, decoded the mysterious flavoring that is castoreum, and found out that apple pie really isn’t all that All-American. In my free time, I force my kids to watch “long and boring” documentaries with me every day, and then I wipe the floor with their pathetic little brains during our nightly (and mandatory!) Jeopardy! viewing. I will click on any enticing history-related link I see on Twitter and rejoin society hours later after crawling out of yet another Wikipedia rabbit hole. And, sometimes, that rabbit hole is so thrilling that I want to toss all of you into it as well.
Yesterday, I read “The Chocolate-Brewing Witches of Colonial Latin America”—written by Reina Gattuso for Gastro Obscura—and let me tell you: This story has it all. Sex! Sorcerers! The Spanish Inquisition! Chocolate! “As a daily drink with indigenous origins, made and served by women, chocolate evoked male fears,” Gattuso writes. This made indigenous women who prepared hot chocolate a great target for male inquisitors who were determined to stamp out sorcery.
It’s a fascinating tale, and hours later, you’ll find yourself with 18 browser tabs open about different psychoactive botanicals used in pre-Columbian medicine, which will eventually lead to Googling everything about the physical deformities of the Roman Emperor Claudius (psychoactive mushrooms -> poisonous mushrooms -> used to assassinate Claudius -> Claudius has a limp, foamed at the mouth, and may have had cerebral palsy), which will lead you to finally crawling into bed at night, hand glued to your phone, scrolling through all sorts of incredible information until you finally drift off to sleep after reading all about the life and times of Super Dave Osborne (don’t know how I got there, but I did). I’m very excited to hear where these fascinating chocolate-brewing witches of Mesoamerica end up taking you.