History Through Literature: Tommaso Strozzi, On the Mind’s Beverage or On the Manufacture of Chocolate (1689)

European Exploration, Perception of the Other, and the Columbian Exchange 

How did the Columbian exchange link worlds?

Tommaso Strozzi was a traveling Jesuit priest and educator in the humanities from Naples. His poem below describes the new delicacy of sweetened Aztec cacao, chocolate, considered a useful beverage for stimulating the mind and often drunk by writers and poets. The excerpt from his poem shares a description of the making of hot chocolate from his friend Lisius.

I barely accomplish this task when the water murmurs and, with a whisper, she herself summons the sweet libation into her swell. Without delay I toss the precious dainties into the steaming liquid, gathering up the remnants with my finger, if they have anywhere stuck to the paper, moistened by the hot steam. . . the mouth opens and, longing to lick the vessel with its lips, sips the foamy cups with suspenseful suck. What a flavor! What pleasure from the sucked up dew! What a bouquet! I wager that there is nothing more pleasing to the learned palate.

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