The on-the-ground research for this Swindon in 50 Drinks post about hot chocolate necessitated a return visit to Los Gatos, on Devizes Road in Old Town.
(See also N0 7: Sherry_at Los Gatos – and for all the Swindon in 50 Drinks posts so far go here.
A blustery Saturday morning, in a series of seemingly endless blustery/gale force/wet days in early 2020, saw four female friends gather for coffee, a warm chocolate drink, churros and chat.
Hot Chocolate History
Drinking chocolate is a delight almost as old as the sun itself. It certainly dates back to The People of the Sun – the Aztecs.
They gave high-regard to cocoa beans for their culinary pleasures and traded in them too – using them as currency. During cultural festivities and ceremonies, they exchanged cocoa beans as gifts.
The Aztecs began roasting fresh cocoa beans and making a chocolate drink from it. But their recipe is miles apart from the drink we know today.
The Aztecs took their chocolate drink cold and blended it with chill peppers and even mulled wine. Indeed, chocolate with chill in it has become popular in recent years.
HOW DRINKING CHOCOLATE ARRIVED IN EUROPE
Back in the early part of the 15th century, the explorer Cortez, discovered chocolate and introduced it to Europe. In Spain they took the chocolate as a hot beverage, sweetened and without the spicy additions. For over a century the Spanish protected their drinking chocolate recipe.
The superiority of chocolate (hot chocolate), both for health and nourishment, will soon give it the same preference over tea and coffee in America which it has in Spain.” — Thomas Jefferson
NB: Los Gatos serve churro (one churro – multiple churros) on Saturday mornings from 10am – to about 11.30 am I think. After that it’s lunches. Dipped into a cup of hot chocolate, this Spanish spin on doughnuts is divine. It gets busy so go early.
A Chocolate Timeline
This article from one of my fave chocolate brands, Hotel Chocolat, has a timeline of the 3,500 year evolution of drinking chocolate.
And this piece from The Londonist details the history of drinking chocolate in London.
According to them, Samuel Pepys infamous diary holds an early record of drinking chocolate. He writes, after the 1661 coronation of King Charles II, he used drinking chocolate as a stomach settler following his liberal libations of the previous night.
‘Drinking chocolate was also available in the new-fangled coffee houses (coffee only arrived in London around five years previously), but this was often an inferior, watered-down version. Plus, most coffee house visitors were there for the caffeine, which cocoa didn’t offer in such quantities.’