Food Series, Episode #1 of 4. When the Spanish conquered Mesoamerica, they conquered cacao. Mixing the bitter cacao seeds with sugar and other spices - spices that were often also obtained through European conquest - the Spanish created a commodity that stimulated the European comestible market. Its luxuriousness grew first out of its expensiveness and rarity in early modern Europe. The inaccessibility of chocolate to most early modern Europeans meant it has not featured strongly in the longer history of European “aphrodisiacs” specifically, but the story of the ways that Europeans adopted the bittersweet central American drink as a sex remedy says a great deal about the history of sexuality, medicine, gender, economics, race, and imperialism.
For the full bibliography and a transcript of this episode, visit digpodcast.org
Jennifer Evans, Aphrodisiacs, Fertility, and Medicine in Early Modern England, (Boydell & Brewer, 2014).
Kate Loveman, “The Introduction of Chocolate into England: Retailers, Researchers, and Consumers, 1640-1730,” Journal of Social History v. 47 n. 1 (2013) 27-46.
Ed. Cameron McNeil, Chocolate in Mesoamerica: A Cultural History of Cacao (University of Florida Press, 2009).
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