Ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures highly valued cacao and chocolate. They consumed it, in beverage form, for religious ceremonies and medicinal purposes. Cocoa beans were sometimes used as money. Many people are surprised to learn the Aztecs did not cook with chocolate. That practice was introduced by the Spanish. Mole Poblano, a popular Mexican holiday recipe combining chocolate and chilies, was not eaten by the Aztecs.

According to the food historians, the Ancient Aztecs used many substances to flavor their chocolate drink. Drinking chocolate without adding flavorings, spices and other additions was almost unheard of. One of the most popular additions was powdered chilli (Capsicum annum). Maize was sometimes added as filler. Flowers were popular flavorings. Chocolate was generally consumed cool.

"The idea of using chocolate as a flavoring in cook food would have been horrifying to the Aztecs - just as Christians could not conceive of using communion wine to make, say, coq au vin."

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