A curious treatise of the nature and quality of chocolate. VVritten in Spanish by Antonio Colmenero, doctor in physicke and chirurgery. And put into English by Don Diego de Vades-forte
Colmenero de Ledesma, Antonio., Wadsworth, James, 1604-1656?

The first Point.

COncerning the first Point, I say, that Chocolate is a Name of the Indians; which in our vulgar Castili∣an, we may call a certaine Confection, in which (amongst other Ingredients) the principall Basis, and Foundation, is the Cacao; of whose Nature and Quality it is necessary first to treat: And therefore I say, according to the common received opinion, that it is cold, and dry, à prae∣dominio; that is to say, that though it be true, that every Simple containes in it the Qualities of the foure Elements, in the action, and re-action, which it hath in it, yet there results Page  3 another distinct Quality, which we call Complexion.

This Quality, or Complexion, which ariseth of this Mix∣ture, is not alwayes one, and the same; neither hath it the effect, in all the mixtures, but they may be varied nine wayes; foure Simple, from whence one onely quality doth abound; and foure Compounded, from whence two Symbolizing qua∣lities are predominant, and one other, which we call ad pondus, which is of all these fore-said qualities, which are in aequilibrio, that is to say in equall measure and degree.

Of all these, the Complexion of Cacao is composed, since there arise two qualities, which are cold, and dry; and in the substance, that rules them, hath it restringent and obstructive, of the nature of the Element of the Earth. And then, as it is a Mixe, and not a simple Element, it must needes have parts correspondent to the rest of the Elements; and particularly, it partakes (and that, not a little) of those, which correspond with the Element of Aire, that is, Heat and Moysture, which are governed by the Unctuous parts; there being drawne out of the Cacao much Butter, which, in the Indies I have seene drawne out of it, for the Face, by the Criollas.

It may Philosophically be objected, in this manner: Two contrary Qualities, and Disagreeing, cannot be, in gradu inten∣so, in one and the same Subject: Cacao is cold and drie, in pre∣dominency: Therefore, it cannot have the qualities contrary to those; which are Heate, and Moysture. The first Proposition is most certaine, and grounded upon good Philosophy: The second is consented unto, by all: The third, which is the Conclusion, is regular.

It cannot be denyed, but that the Argument is very strong, and these reasons being considered by him of Marchena, have made him affirme, that Chocolate is Obstructive; it seeming to be contrary to Philosophy, that it there should bee found Heate and Moysture, in gradu intenso; and to be so likewise in Cold and Dry.

Page  4 To this, there are two things to be answered: One, that he never saw the experience of drawing out the Butter, which I have done; and that when the Chocolate is made without ad∣ding any thing to the dryed Powder, which is incorporated, onely by beating it well together, and is united, and made into a Paste, which is a signe that there is a moist, and glutinous part, which, of necessity, must correspond with the Element of Aire.

The other reason, we will draw from Philosophy; affirming that, in the Cacao, there are different Substances. In the one, that is to say, in that, which is not so fat, it hath a greater quantity of the Oylie, then of the earthy substance; and in the fatter parts, it hath more of the earthy than of the Oily substance. In these there is Heat and Moysture in predomi∣nancy and in the other cold and dry.

Notwithstanding that it is hard to be believed, that in one and the same substance, and so little of the Cacao, it can have substances so different: To the end that it may appeare more easie, cleare, and evident, first we see it in the Rubarbe, which hath in it hot and soluble parts, and parts which are Binding, Cold and Dry which have a vertue to strengthen, binde, and stop the loosenesse of the Belly: I say also, that hee that sees, and considers the steele, so much of the Nature of the earth, as being heavy, thicke, cold, and dry; it seemes to be thought unproper for the caring of Opilations, but rather to be apt, to encrease them; and yet it is given for a proper remedy against them.

This difficulty is cleared thus, that though it be true, that it hath much of the Earthy part; yet it hath also parts of Sul∣phur, and of Quick-silver, which doe open, and disopilate; neither doth it so, untill it be helped by Art, as it is ground, stirred, and made fine, in the preparing of it; the Sulphurous parts, and those of Quick-silver, being thinne, active, and pe∣netrative, they mingle, at the last with those parts, which are Page  5 Earthy and astringent: Insomuch, that they being mingled after this manner, one with another, we cannot now say, that the steele is astringent, but rather, that it is penetrative, at∣tenuating, and opening. Let us prove this Doctrine by Au∣thorities; and let the first be from Gallen, lib. 3. of the qua∣lities of Simples, cap. 14. Where, first of all he teacheth, that almost all those Medicines, which, to our sence, seeme to bee simple, are notwithstanding naturally Compounded, contai∣ning in themselves contrary qualities; and that is to say, a qua∣lity to expell, and to retaine; to incrassate, and attenuate; to rarifie, and to condense. Neither are we to wonder at it, it being understood, that in every fore-said Medicine, there is a quality to heate, and to coole; to moisten and to dry. And whatsoever Medicine it bee, it hath in it, thicke, and thinne parts; rare, and dense; soft, and hard. And in the fifteenth Chapter following, in the same Booke, hee puts an example of the Broth of a Cocke, which moves the Belly; and the Flesh hath the vertue to binde. He puts also the example of the Aloes, which if it be washt, looseth the Purgative vertue; or that which it hath, is but weake.

That this differing vertue, and faculty, is found in divers substances, or parts of simple Medicaments, Gallen shewes in the first Booke of his simple Medicines, and the seven∣teenth Chapter, bringing the example of Milke; in which, three substances are found, and separated, that is to say, the substance of Cheese, which hath the vertue to stop the Fluxe of the Belly; and the substance of Whay, which is Purging; and Butter, as it is expressed in the said Gallen, Cap. 15. Also we finde in Wine which is in the Must, three substances, that is to say, earth, which is the chiefe; and a thinner sub∣stance, which is the flower, and may be called the scum, or froath: and a third substance, which we properly call Wine; And every one of these substances, containes in it selfe di∣vers qualities, and vertues; in the colour, in the smell, and in other Accidents.

Page  6Aristotle in the fourth Booke of the Meteors and the first Chapter, treating of Putrifaction, hee found the same sub∣stances; and in the second Chapter next following, where he that is curious, may read it. And also by the doctrine of Galen, and of Aristotle, divers substances are attributed to every of the mixt under one and the same forme and quantity; which is very conformable to reason, if we consider, that every Ali∣ment, be it never so simple, begets, and produceth in the li∣ver, foure humours, not onely differing in temper, but also in substance; and begets more or lesse of that humour, accor∣ding as that Aliment hath more or fewer parts correspon∣ding to the substance of that humour, which is most ingen∣dred. And so in cold diseases, we give warme nourishment; and cold nourishment, in hot diseases.

From which evident examples, and many others, which we might produce to this purpose, wee may gather, that, when we grinde, and stirre the Cacao, the divers parts, which Nature hath given it, doe artificially, and intimately mixe themselves one with an other; and so the uuctuous, warme, and moist parts, mingled with the earthy (as we have said of the steele) represses, and leaves them not so binding, as they were before; but rather with a mediocritie, more inclining to the warme, and moist temper of the Aire, then to the cold and dry of the Earth; as it doth appeare when it is made fit to drinke; that you scarce give it two turnes with the Moli∣net when there riseth a fatty scumme: by which you may see, how much it partaketh of the Oylie part.

From which doctrine I gather, that the Author of Mar∣chena, was in an errour; who, writing of Chocolate, saith, that it causeth Opilations, because Cacao is astringent; as if that astriction were not corrected, by the intimate mixing of one part with an other, by meanes of the grinding, as is said be∣fore. Besides, it having so many ingredients, which are na∣turally hot, it must of necessity have this effect; that is to say, Page  7 to open, attenuate, and not to binde, and, indeed, there is no cause of bringing more examples, or producing more reasons, for this truth, then that which we see in the Cacao it selfe: which, if it be not stirred, and compounded, as aforesaid, to make the Chocolate. But eating of it, as it is in the fruite, as the Criollas eate it in the Indies, it doth notably obstruct, and cause stoppings; for no other cause but this, that the divers substances which it containes, are not perfectly mingled by the mastication onely, but require the artificiall mixture, which we have spoken of before.

Besides, our Adversary should have considered, and called to his memory, the first rudiments of Philosophy, That, à dicto secundum quid, ad dictum simpliciter, non valet conse∣quentia; As it is not enough to say, the Black-a-Moore is white, because his teeth are white; for hee may bee blacke, though he have white teeth; and so it is not enough io say, that the Cacao is stopping; and therefore the Confection, which is made of it, is also stopping.

The Tree, which beares this fruit, is so delicate; and the earth, where it growes, is so extreame hot, that to keepe the tree from being consumed by the Sun, they first plant other trees; and when they are growne up, to a good heighth, then they plant the Cacao-trees; that when it first shewes it selfe above the ground, those trees, which are already growne, may shelter it from the Sunne; and the fruit doth not grow naked, but ten or twelue of them are in one Gorde or Codde, which is of the bignes of a great blacke Figge, or bigger, and of the same forme, and colour.

There are two sorts of Cacao; the one is common, which is of a gray colour, inclining towards red; the other is broa∣der, and bigger, which they call Patlaxte, and this is white, and more drying; whereby it causeth watchfulnes, and drives away sleepe, and therefore it is not so usefull, as the ordina∣ry. This shall suffice to be said of the Cacao.

Page  8 And as for the rest of the ingredients, which make our Chocolaticall Confection, there is notable variety; because some doe put into it blacke Pepper, and also Tauasco; which is not proper, because is is so hot and dry; but onely for one, * who hath a very cold Liver. And of this opinion, was a cer∣taine Doctor of the Universite of Mexico, of whom a Religi∣ous man of good credit told me, that he finding the ordinary round Pepper was not fit to bring his purpose about; and to the end, he might discover, whether the long red pepper were more proper, he made triall upon the liver of a Sheepe; and putting the ordinary pepper on one side, and the red pep∣per * on the other, after 24. houres, the part, where the ordi∣nary pepperlay, was dryed up; and the other part continued moist, as if nothing had bin throwen upon it.

The Receipt of him who wrote at Marchena, is this: Of Cacaos, 700; of white Sugar, one pound and a halfe; Cinna∣mon, 2. ounces; of long red pepper, 14. of Cloves, halfe an ounce: Three Cods of the Logwood or Campeche tree; or in stead of that, the weight of 2. Reals, or a shilling of Annis∣seeds; as much of Achiote, as will give it the colour, which is about the quantity of a Hasell-nut. Some put in Almons, kernels of Nuts, and Orenge-flower-water.

Concerning this Receipt, I shall first say, This shooe will not fit every foote; but for those, who have diseases, or are inclining to be infirme, you may either adde, or take away, according to the necessity, and temperature of every one: and I hold it not amisse, that Sugar bee put into it, when it is drunke, so that it be according to the quantity I shall hereaf∣ter set downe. And sometimes they make Tablets of the Sugar, and the Chocolate together; which they doe onely to please the Pallats, as the Dames of Mexico doe use it; and they are there sold in shops, and are confected and eaten like other sweet-meats. For the Cloves, which are put into this drinke, by the Author aforesaid, the best Writers of this Page  9 Composition use them not; peradventure upon this reason: that although they take away the ill savour of the mouth, they binde; as a learned Writer hath exprest in these verses:

Foetorem emendant or is Cariophila foedum;
Constring unt ventrem, prima{que} membrajuvant.

And because they are binding (and hot and dry in the third degree) they must not be used, though they helpe the chiefe parts of Concoction, which are the stomacke, and the Liver, as appeares by the Verses before recited.

The husks or Cods of Logwood, or Campeche, are very good, and smell like Fennell; and every one puts in of these, because they are not very hot; though it excuse not the put∣ting in of Annis-seed, as sayes the Author of this Receipt; for there is no Chocolate without it, because it is good for many cold diseases, being hot in the third degree; and to temper the coldnesse of the Cacao; and that it may appeare, it helpes the indisposition of cold parts, I will cite the Verses of one, curious in this Art:

Morbosos renes, vesicam, guttura, vuluam,
Intestina, iecur, cum{que} lyene caput
Confortat, varijs{que} Anisum subdita mortis
Membra: istud tantam vim leve semen habet.

The quantity of a Nut of the Achiote is too little to colour the quantity made according to his Receipt; and therefore, * he that makes it, may put it in, as much as he thinkes fit.

Those, who adde Almons, and Nuts, doe not ill; because they give it more body and substance then Maiz, or Paniso, which others use; and for my part, I should alwayes put it in to *Chocolate, for Almonds (besides what I have said of them before) are moderately hot, and have a thin juice; but you must not use new Almons, as a learned Author sayes in these Verses.

Dat modicè calidum dulcisque Amigdalasuccum,
Et tenuem; inducunt damna nova.

Page  10 And the small Nuts are not ill for our purpose; for they have almost the temper, which the Almons have; onely be∣cause they are dryer, they come nearer the temper of Choler; and doe therefore strengthen the Belly, and the Stomacke, being dryed: for so they must be used for the Confection; and they preserve the head from those vapours, which rise from the Belly: as it appeares by the said Author in these Verses.

Bilis Avellanamsequitur▪ sedroborat aluum
Ventris, & à fumis liberat assacaput.

And therefore they are proper for such as are troubled with ventuosities, and Hypochondriacall vapours, which offend the brain, and there cause such troublesome dreames, and sad ima∣ginations.

Those who mixe Maiz, or Paniso, in the Chocolate doe very ill; because those graines doe beget a very melancholy Hu∣mour: as the same Author expresseth in these verses.

Crassa melancholicum praestant tibi Panica succum
Siccant, si ponas membra, geiantque foris.

It is also apparantly windy; and those which mixe it in this Confection, do it onely for theit profit, by encreasing the quan∣tity of the Chocolate; because every Fanega or measure of *Grani containing about a Bushell and a halfe, is sold for eight shillings, and they sell this Confection for foure shillings a pound, which is the ordinary price of the Chocolate.

The Cinamon is hot and dry in the third degree; it provokes Urine, and helpes the Kidneys and Reynes of those who are troubled with cold diseases; and it is good for the eyes; and in effect, it is cordiall; as appeares by the Author of these verses.

Commoda & urinae Cynamomum & renibus affert;
Lumina clarificat, dira venenafugat.

The Achiote hath a piercing attenuating quality; as appea∣reth by the common practice of the Physitians in the Indies, experienced dayly in the effects of it, who doe give it to their Page  11 Patients, to cut, and attenuate the grosse humours, which do cause shortnesse of breath, and stopping of urine; and so it may be used for any kind of Opilations; for we give it for the stoppings, which are in the breast, or in the Region of the bel∣ly, or any other part of the Body.

And concerning the long red Peper, there are foure sorts of it. One is called Chilchotes: the other very little, which they call Chilterpin; and these two kindes, are very quicke and bi∣ting. The other two are called Tonalchiles, and these are mo∣derately hot; for they are eaten with bread, as they eate other fruits, and they are of a yellow colour; and they grow onely about the Townes, which are in, and adjoyning to the Lake of Mexico. The other Pepper is called Chilpaclagua, which hath a broad huske; and this is not so biting as the first; nor so gentle as the last: and is that, which is usually put into the Chocolate.

There are also other ingredients, which are used in this Confection. One called Mechasuchil; and another which they call Vinecaxtli, which in the Spanish they call Orejuelas, which are sweet smelling Flowers, Aromaticall and hot. And the Mechasuchil hath a Purgative quality; for in the Indies they make a purging potion of it. In stead of this, in Spaine they put into the Confection, powder of Roses of Alexandria, for opening the Belly.

I have spoken of all these Ingredients, that every one may make choise of those which please him best, or are most pro∣per for his infirmities.