Early travelogues recorded by explorers, missionaries, historians, and botanists during the “discovery,” conquest and colonization of the Americas included descriptions of the unusual flora and fauna and accounts of the strange customs and eating habits of the native peoples. One of the most distinguished chroniclers of the Caribbean was Père Labat of France. At the Archivo General de Indias and the Escuela de Estudios Hispanoamericanos (EEHA) in Seville, I consulted early Spanish colonial travel narratives, chronicles, and diaries, which can be considered the first “ethnographies” in the encounter between the Old and New Worlds. These early texts reveal developing discourses regarding cacao -- as a plant, food, medicine, and aphrodisiac.
SPONSOR: Scholar's Grant, The Culinary Historians of New York