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What if the first cup of chocolate in Europe was served in Zaragoza?

And more specifically, it is presumed that it was in the Monasterio de Piedra de Zaragoza

Old church of the Monasterio de Piedra in Zaragoza © Getty Images

Few can resist tasting a cup of hot chocolate. Well, from that cup that we hold today in our hands to the first one that was made in Europe, centuries have passed. In the same way as the tomato or the potatoes, cocoa beans came from America after the trips of Christopher Columbus, and like the rest of the products, it was difficult for them to conquer the palates of the Old Continent.

It would be possible to think that a food so appreciated today as it is the chocolate will triumph immediately. Well, no. More than twenty years have passed since Europe became aware of the existence of cocoa beans until the first cup of this drink was prepared. Where? Probably in the Stone Monastery, in the Zaragoza province.

Stone Monastery © Alamy

According to the chronicler Bernal Díaz del Castillo in his work History of the Conquest of New SpainOn his fourth and last trip to the Americas, Columbus was intercepted by a large indigenous boat. The captain of the ship, in peace, he gave them with copper tissues and objects. He also ordered his crew to prepare them a dark and bitter drink that nothing pleased Columbus and his companions. This drink was made from cocoa.

And if on the other side of the Atlantic, cocoa was already highly appreciated and even served as currency and payment method, in Europe it was not known to see its qualities. Columbus upon his return to the Peninsula, He showed the cocoa beans in the Court without arousing any enthusiasm.

Stone Monastery © Alamy

It wasn't until a couple of decades later when in Hernán Cortés's travels through New Spain when cocoa is given a second chance and an unstoppable expansion of it begins in Europe.

According to the gastronomic historian Luis Monreal Tejada it was Fray Jerónimo Aguilar, Cistercian monk who participated in the conquest of Mexico led by Hernán Cortés, who sent the first cocoa beans to Antonio de Álvaro, abbot of the Monasterio de Piedra, who belonged to the same order.

Fantasy can recreate that moment in which the package of dark beans arrives at the hands of the abbot with the pertinent explanations to elaborate it. The kitchen walls of the Monasterio de Piedra and those most curious or authorized monks would witness that Historic moment It reflects the engraving that accompanies these lines.

Mural of the Monasterio de Piedra © Monasterio de Piedra

It will be fair to mention that, in the absence of a notary to record the fact, a couple more places dispute the privilege having hosted the first cup of chocolate in Europe. What is undeniable is that chocolate acquired in the Monasterio de Piedra a Great relevance and fame.

Above all, since it was a food of which there was no reference in the Old Testament and liquid was consumed, it was considered that he did not break the fast to which the religious community was called. In the cocoa drink many monks found the sufficient energy to support food deprivation and hence its Great expansion through the abbeys.

The cocoa that historically arrived in Aragon came from Caracas and Guayaquil, Zaragoza being one of the Spanish squares where chocolate had the most refined consumers. As it appears in the correspondence of Goya, the Aragonese painter was sent chocolate from Zaragoza, because neither in the Madrid Court found any of such quality.

Brescó Chocolate, from Benabarre (Huesca) © Esther Ibáñez

In a confectionery book dated in 1847 we find the recipe of the famous and called Aragon Chocolate: “Eleven roasted pounds of cocoa from Caracas, the same amount of cocoa from Guayaquil and when ground, twelve pounds of muscovado sugar * are added * * cane sugar, unrefined) and six ounces of cinnamon from the Netherlands, reduced to dust. ”

The chocolate heritage was transmitted through the centuries and Aragon has numerous industrial references in the sector, where the well-known Lacasitos or Bones came from. The latter are currently owned by the Alicante chocolate maker Valor.

Luckily too in Aragon artisan chocolate remains a great reference: from Chocolatería Brescó de Benabarre (Huesca) to Chocolates Muñoz or Chocolates Isabel in the province of Teruel keep alive the tradition of making chocolate.

Brescó Chocolate, from Benabarre (Huesca) © Esther Ibáñez

Video: VIETNAMESE EGG COFFEE - How to make your own (April 2020).

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