October 15, 2018

Codex Medoza, c. 1540. Attributed to Francisco Gualpuyogualcal and to Juan González. Transport method of cacao (next to jaguar skins) under the early Aztec Empire. Public Domain, Bodleian Library, Oxford University.

Bartolomé de Las Casas presents a horrific picture of p...

October 2, 2018

The Coco-Nut Tree, 1739

Penelope Jephson was most famous for having married Simon Patrick, prolific bishop, anti-semite, and controversial “paraphraser” of the Bible from Genesis to Song of Solomon, published in 10 volumes. This epic study would be published alongside ot...

September 15, 2018

If England had reached the southern New World before Spain, Portia’s Merchant suitors might have wisely chosen against the casket with cacao in it. Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby Belch would re-tune the suggestion that virtue meant no more cakes and chocolate (Twelfth Night,...

September 1, 2018

Broadside against coffee, one of many from the 1660s and 70s. Houghton Library, Harvard.

The 1660s were a busy decade for writing about chocolate in England and in English. No fewer than 10 broadsides, commentaries, and treatises were published. If people worried about c...

August 1, 2018

Pieter Boudewyn Van Der Aa, Manière dont les habitants de la Nouvelle Espagne préparent le cacao pour le chocolat. Galerie Agréable du Monde. Leiden, 1728. BNF, PET FOL-VX-113

In spite of the masculinity of the preparers of cacao in the above 18th-C image, by all early-...

May 1, 2018

The European Chocolate Pot or Chocolatière

"This is the same chocolaty pottes that are mayd in the Indis"

 Pot and molinillo (molinet, or dowel for whipping chocolate) depicted by Lady Ann Fanshawe in her family cookbook atop a recipe "to dresse Chocolata," from Madrid, 1...

April 15, 2018

Last month Maria Sibylla Merian ranked among a host of intellectuals who had depicted cacao (see Pods, Pots, and Potions). This month we zoom in to study the caterpillars creeping through the image. The larvae featured on cacao have a special history, perhaps not unrela...

March 15, 2018

The different ways the cacao tree has been depicted through history — from 16th-century codices to 18th-century botanicals — and what this changing iconography reveals about cacao’s journey into European culture.

February 14, 2018

The event known as Valentine’s Day is both current and historical, legend and tangible practice, very old and very recent. What is the thing we most associate with Valentine’s Day? Chocolate…of course! But you won’t find mention of it in the history of Valentine’s Day....

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