"Chocolate: The Exhibition" at the Gilcrease Museum
On this installment of ST, we learn about a new exhibit at the Gilcrease Museum, "Chocolate: The Exhibition," which will be on view through January 8th. Our guest is Gary Feinman, the MacArthur Curator of Mesoamerican, Central American, and East Asian Anthropology at The Field Museum in Chicago; he's one of the curators of this interesting show, which was actually created over a decade ago. As is noted of this exhibition at the Gilcrease website: "'Chocolate' will immerse you in a sweet experience, engage all your senses, and reveal facets of chocolate you may never have thought about before. You'll explore the plant, the products, the history, and the culture of chocolate through the lenses of botany and ecology, anthropology and economics, conservation and popular culture. The ancient Maya of Central America knew it as a frothy, spicy drink, made from the seeds of the cacao tree and used in royal and religious ceremonies. But, because cacao grows only in the rainforest, it was coveted by other cultures -- in particular, the Aztec. It soon became a valuable article of trade; the seeds served as a form of money, and the drink became a luxury for the elite, served in lavishly decorated vessels. When the first Europeans reached the Aztec capital, instead of gold they found treasure troves of cacao seeds. The exhibition explores the commodification of chocolate by Europeans, and the use of slave labor on colonial plantations to meet the insatiable European demand for chocolate and its new soul mate, sugar...."