Like many early cultures, Mexico’s handmade artifacts were a significant indicator of a country’s cultural development.
Pottery was a striking example of how the early people cooked, ate, transported water, drank, stored food, and even held the remains of loved ones.
Archaeologists have discovered a spicy detail in the vessels of early Mexican pottery dating back over 2400 years. Upon careful analysis and scraping samples from inside the vessels, they uncovered traces of capsaicin the active compound found in chili peppers. These vessels were thought to be used to make spicy drinks and to hold condiments and sauces.
In fact, using pottery to make spicy drinks in Mexico has been dated back to 400 B.C. That dates back further than your embarrassing weekend in Tijuana.
While people are still figuring out which came first, the chicken or the egg, the historians have concluded that chili peppers were used before chocolate, meaning the drinks being prepared inside the vessels were not the spicy Mexican hot chocolate we see on the menus in today’s restaurants.
Prior, it was believed that the spouted vessels were used solely to make cacao (chocolate) beverages and then either achiote, allspice, honey, maize, vanilla, zapote, various fruits, and/or chili peppers were added to the bitter chocolate to make it into a tasty drink. But now, it’s believed with these additional findings, that chili peppers were used in the vessels first. Whoever was the ancient person of Mexico to pour melted chocolate into a chili pepper-lined vessel was sure the hero of their time.
Other uses for putting chili peppers inside a vessel was to use as an insect repellent to keep any unwanted insects and rodents away.
The spicy vessels were discovered in both temples and in the tombs of the very rich and prominent. This could mean that whatever was made in the vessels were used in ritualistic ceremonies before being buried with the dead.