It was the Mayas who first taught the old world how to drink chocolate, and it was the Mayas who gave us the word cacao. There are five or six basic ingredients used to make traditional Mayan cacao: water, cacao, honey, vanilla, cinnamon and chile pepper. The amount of each ingredient is optional. In some areas it is also traditional to combine this drink with corn flour, and turned into gruel, to be consumed hot or cold. The true Mayan way to produce this drink was to pour the liquid from one vessel to another, in order to create as much foam as possible. In some cases herbs were added to produce more foaming action.
This is the first known picture of a chocolate drink being made. It illustrates the process of pouring the potion from one vessel into another to increase the foam.
A woman pours chocolate from one vessel to another in this palace scene from the Princeton Vase, Late Classic Maya (c.AD 750). This is the earliest depiction of the froth-producing process.
Códice Tudela, sixteenth century. A mexican woman prepares
a chocolate drink with a frothy head by pouring the liquid
back and forth between two vessels.
The Maya elite served a frothy cacao drink during feasts. The importance of these gatherings dictated the use of elaborate service vessels such as this unusual lidded container in the form of a cormorant with a tiny turtle attached to its breast.