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“Sayings, Wise and Otherwise,” (also in the “The Sayings of Dr. Bushwhacker and Other Wise Men”) by Frederic S. Cozzens; American Book Exchange, New York; 1880; pp. 20-23.



Chocolate and Cocoa.

“H OW is it, Doctor,” said we over our matutinal, but unusual cup of chocolate, “how is it that drinking chocolate produces a headache with many persons who can eat chocolate bon-bons by the quantity with impunity!” “My learned friend,” said Dr. Bushwhacker, rousing up and shaking his mane, “I will tell you all about it. Chocolate, or as the great Linnæus used to call it, ‘Theo broma’ — food for the gods — is a most peculiar preparation. It is made of the berries of the cacao, sir, a small tree indigenous to South America. We misname the berries cocoa, because the jicaras, or native cups in which the cocoa was drunk by the Mexicans, were made of the small end of the cocoa-nut. The tree, sir, bears a beautiful rose-colored blossom, and that produces a long pod, resembling our cucumber; in that pod we find the cacao imbedded — a multitude of oval pits, about the size of shelled almonds, and surrounded with a white acid pulp. Now, sir, this pulp produces a very refreshing drink in the tropics, called vino cacao, or cacao-wine, which is more esteemed there than the beverage we make from the berries.”

“But, Doctor, how about the headache?”


“Sir,” said the Doctor, “I am getting to that. If you take a pair of compasses, and put the right leg in the middle of the Madeira River, one of the tributaries of the majestic Amazon, and extend the other to Caracas, then sweep it round in a circle, you will embrace within that the native land of the cacao. It grows, sir, from Venezuela to the Pampas of Buenos Ayres, an extent of country more beautiful, vaster, and of less importance than any other territory on the habitable globe. Well, sir, this plant, which, from its oleaginous properties, seems suitable to supply the want of animal food, is expressly adapted for that country. ‘He who has drank one cup,’ says Fernando Cortez, ‘can travel a whole day without any other food.’ Now, sir, we must not believe this altogether; but the value of this liquid nutriment for those who have to cross the Llanos of the north, or the Pampas of the south, is not to be lightly estimated.”

“But the headache, Doctor?”

“Chocolate,” continued Dr. Bushwhacker, “is made of the cacao berries, slightly roasted and triturated in water; a certain degree of heat is necessary in its preparation. The best we have comes from Caracas; it is of a light brown color, and quite expensive, sometimes two or three dollars a pound. The ordinary chocolate we import from France, Spain, Germany, and the West Indies, is a mixture of cacao with sago, rice, sugar, and other articles, flavored with cinnamon or vanilla, the latter being deleterious on account of its effects upon the nervous 22 system. How much Caracas cacao is used here I do not know, but I presume Pará furnishes our manufacturers with their principal supplies. The quantity of cacao that comes here in its native state is very great, compared with the manufactured article, the chocolate; we import one hundred and seventy thousand dollars’ worth of the one, against a little over two thousand dollars’ worth of the other.”

‘But the headache, Doctor? What is the reason that liquid choco——”

“Sir,” replied Dr. Bushwhacker, drawing himself up with cast-iron dignity, “if I interrupted you as often as you interrupt me, that question would be answered some time after the allies take Sebastopol. Chocolate was introduced into Spain by Fernando Cortez; to this day it is in Spain what coffee is to France, or tea to England, the pet beverage of all classes of people who can afford it. It was introduced into England simultaneously with coffee, just before the restoration of King Charles, the Second. Then it was prepared for the table by merely mixing it with hot water, no milk, sir. Pope alludes to it in the Rape of the Lock. ‘Whatever spirit, careless of his charge, his post neglects,’

‘In fumes of burning chocolate shall glow,
 And tremble at the sea that froths below.’

The Spaniards, sir, do not use milk in preparing it, nor do the South Americans. By the way, thirty years ago, 23 my friend, Col. Duane, of Philadelphia, published a book on Colombia, which is highly interesting; so, too, you will find Zea’s Colombia of the same period; Pazo’s Letters to Henry Clay, written in 1819; Depon’s Voyages in the early part of this century; and the still more interesting voyages of Don George Juan, and Don Antonio de Ulloa, in 1735. Then there is Hippisly’s Narrative, Brown’s Itinerary, and many other books, my learned friend, that will tell you about the cacao. In that country, where meat is not abundant, a cup of chocolate supplies the necessary nutriment, and a breakfast of cacao and fruit, sir, is satisfying and delicious. Arbuthnot says it is rich, alimentary, and anodyne.”

“But the headache, Doctor?”

“In Spain,” continued the Doctor, “it is served up in beautiful cups of fillagree work, made in the shape of tulips or lilies, with leaves that fold over the top by touching a spring. These leaves are to protect it from the flies. The ladies are so fond of it that they have it sent after them to church; this the bishops interdicted for a while, but that only made it more desirable.”

“But what are its peculiar properties, Doctor?”

“Tea, my learned friend,” replied the Doctor, curtly, “inspires scandal and sentiment; coffee excites the imagination; but chocolate, sir, is aphrodisiac!”


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