La historia del Mondo Nuovo

Girolamo Benzoni. 1565.

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Benzoni describes the cacavate, or cacao, in Mexico and includes an image of cacao pods drying on a mat. He recounts his own experience drinking it, first criticizing it as a drink for pigs, then stating it was satisfying and refreshing.

Image of La historia del Mondo Nuovo

Benzoni describes the cacavate, or cacao, in Mexico and includes an image of cacao pods drying on a mat. He recounts his own experience drinking it, first criticizing it as a drink for pigs, then stating it was satisfying and refreshing.

“The other is cacavate, which they use as money, and is produced on a moderately sized tree, that flourishes only in very warm and shady localities; for if shone upon by the sun, it would die. It is therefore planted in the woods in moist places, and this not being sufficient, they plant a tree near it that grows larger, and when it has reached a sufficient height, they double down its head so as to shelter the other and shade it, preventing the sun from giving it any annoyance.

The fruit is like almonds, lying in a shell resembling a pumpkin in size. It ripens in the course of a year, and being plucked when the season has arrived, they pick out the kernels and lay them on mats to dry; then when they wish for the beverage, they roast them in an earthen pan over the fire, and grind them with the stones which they use for preparing bread. Finally, they put the paste into cups, made out of the calabashes produced by a certain tree that grows all over India; and mixing it gradually with water, sometimes adding a little of their spice, they drink it, though seeming more suited for pigs than for men.

I was upwards of a year in that country without ever being induced to taste this beverage; and when I passed through a tribe, if an Indian wished occasionally to give me some, he was very much surprised to see me refuse it, and went away laughing. But subsequently, wine failing, and unwilling to drink nothing but water, I did as others did. The flavor is somewhat bitter, but it satisfies and refreshes the body without intoxicating: the Indians esteem it above everything, wherever they are accustomed to it.” Translation from William Henry Smyth, History of the New World (London: Printed for Hakluyt Society, 1857), 149–50.

Image of La historia del Mondo Nuovo

Benzoni describes the cacavate, or cacao, in Mexico and includes an image of cacao pods drying on a mat. He recounts his own experience drinking it, first criticizing it as a drink for pigs, then stating it was satisfying and refreshing.

“The other is cacavate, which they use as money, and is produced on a moderately sized tree, that flourishes only in very warm and shady localities; for if shone upon by the sun, it would die. It is therefore planted in the woods in moist places, and this not being sufficient, they plant a tree near it that grows larger, and when it has reached a sufficient height, they double down its head so as to shelter the other and shade it, preventing the sun from giving it any annoyance.

The fruit is like almonds, lying in a shell resembling a pumpkin in size. It ripens in the course of a year, and being plucked when the season has arrived, they pick out the kernels and lay them on mats to dry; then when they wish for the beverage, they roast them in an earthen pan over the fire, and grind them with the stones which they use for preparing bread. Finally, they put the paste into cups, made out of the calabashes produced by a certain tree that grows all over India; and mixing it gradually with water, sometimes adding a little of their spice, they drink it, though seeming more suited for pigs than for men.

I was upwards of a year in that country without ever being induced to taste this beverage; and when I passed through a tribe, if an Indian wished occasionally to give me some, he was very much surprised to see me refuse it, and went away laughing. But subsequently, wine failing, and unwilling to drink nothing but water, I did as others did. The flavor is somewhat bitter, but it satisfies and refreshes the body without intoxicating: the Indians esteem it above everything, wherever they are accustomed to it.” Translation from William Henry Smyth, History of the New World (London: Printed for Hakluyt Society, 1857), 149–50.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book
Title La historia del Mondo Nuovo
Creator Girolamo Benzoni
Publication Date 1565
Call Number VAULT Ayer 108 .B4 1565
Location Special Collections