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CHOCOLATE: BRIEF HISTORY

Voice of America

Around the world with chocolate

 
   

I'm Bob Doughty. And I'm Shirley Griffith with "Explorations" in VOA Special English. Today we travel around the world exploring the history of chocolate. Its story begins with a plant whose scientific name, Theobroma cacao, means "food of the gods." For centuries, people have been enjoying the rich flavor of chocolate, a product made from this plant.
begins: comienza; whose: cuyo; means: significa; gods: dioses; for centuries: durante siglos; enjoying: disfrutando: flavor: sabor;

Most people today think of chocolate as something sweet to eat or drink that can be easily found in stores around the world. It might surprise you that chocolate was once highly treasured.
sweet: dulce; that can be easily found: que puede hallarse fácilmente; might: podría; once: una vez; highly treasured: altamente valorizado;

Historians believe the Maya people of Central America first learned to farm cacao plants around two thousand years ago. The Maya took the cacao trees from the rainforests and grew them in their gardens. They cooked the cacao seeds, then crushed them into a soft paste. They mixed the paste with water and flavorful spices to make an unsweetened chocolate drink. The Maya poured the chocolate drink back and forth between two containers so that the liquid had a layer of bubbles, or foam.
historians: los historiadores; learrned to farm: aprendieron a cultivar; rainforests: slvas tropicales; grew them: los cultivaban; cooked: cocinaban; seeds: simientes; crushed: aplastadas; soft paste: pasta suave; flavorful spices: sabrosas especias; unsweetened: sin endulzar; poured: volcaban, vertían; back and forth: hacia adelante y hacia atrás; so that: a fin de que; layer of bubbles: capa de burbujas; foam: espuma;

Cacao and chocolate were an important part of Maya culture. There are often images of cacao plants on Maya buildings and art objects. Ruling families drank chocolate at special ceremonies. And, even poorer members of society could enjoy the drink once in a while. Historians believe that cacao seeds were also used in marriage ceremonies as a sign of the union between a husband and wife.
often: a menudo; buildings: construcciones; ruling families: las familias gobernantes; drank: bebían; even poorer: aún los más pobres; once in a while: de vez en cuando, cada tanto; marriage: casamiento; as a sign of: como símbolo de; husband: esposo; wife: esposa;

The Aztec culture in current day Mexico also prized chocolate. But, the cacao plant could not grow in the area where the Aztecs lived. So, they traded to get cacao. They even used cacao seeds as a form of money to pay taxes or give as holy offerings to the gods.
in current day: en el actual; prized: apreciaban, valoraban; traded: negociaban; pay taxes: pagar impuestos; holy offerings: ofrendas sagradas;

Only the very wealthy people in Aztec societies could afford to drink chocolate because cacao was so valuable. The Aztec ruler Moctezuma was believed to drink fifty cups of chocolate every day.
wealthy: rica, adinerada; could afford: podía pagar; valuable: valioso; ruler: gobernante; cups: tazas;

Some experts believe the word for chocolate came from the Aztec word "xocolatl" which in the Nahuatl language means "bitter water." Others believe the word "chocolate" was created by combining Mayan and Nahuatl words.
which: la cual; bitter water: agua amarga;

The explorer Christopher Columbus brought cacao seeds to Spain after his trip to Central America in 1502. But it was the Spanish explorer Hernando Cortes who understood that chocolate could be a valuable investment. In fifteen nineteen, Cortes arrived in current day Mexico. He believed the chocolate drink would become popular with Spaniards.
brought: llevó (el verbo bring significa "traer" pero también se lo utiliza como "llevar"); trip: viaje; fifteen oh two: 1502; understood: comprendió; would become popular: se populizaría; Spaniards: los españoles;

After the Spanish soldiers defeated the Aztec empire, they were able to seize the supplies of cacao and send them home. Spain later began planting cacao in its colonies in the Americas in order to supply the large demand for chocolate.
defeated: derrotaron, vencieron; empire: imperio; were able to seize: pudieron capturar; in order to: con el propósito de; large demand for: gran demanda de;

The wealthy people of Spain first enjoyed a sweetened version of the chocolate drink. Later, the popularity of the drink spread throughout Europe. The English, Dutch and French began to plant cacao trees in their own colonies. Chocolate remained a drink that only wealthy people could afford to drink until the eighteenth century. During the period known as the Industrial Revolution, new technologies helped make chocolate less costly to produce.
sweetened: endulzada; spread throughout: se expandió por toda; Dutch: holandeses; remained: permaneció; until: hasta; during: durante; less costly to: menos costoso de;

Farmers grow cacao trees in many countries in Africa, Central and South America. The trees grow in the shady areas of rainforests near the Earth's equator. But these trees can be difficult to grow.
shady area: zonas o regiones protegidas por la sombra;

They require an exact amount of water, warmth, soil and protection. After about five years, cacao trees start producing large fruits called pods, which grow near the trunk of the tree. The seeds inside this pod are harvested to make chocolate.
require: requieren, exigen; amount: cantidad; warmth: calor; soil: suelo; pods: vainas; trunk: tronco; harvested: cosechadas.

Source: VOA - Voice of America

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