Rosita de cacao is the flower of the funeral tree, Quararibea funebris. Sometimes called Food of the Gods, this rare white flower is not just lovely, it’s edible. The stamen, pistil and petals may be easily pulled out of the sepal and eaten raw. This flower was traditionally eaten by itself as a tasty popcorn-like snack or even smoked with tobacco. While once common, deforestation in its native habitat makes it rare today. The Aztecs once used the fragrant flowers to flavor beverages, as well as for perfume.
Quararibea funebris, is a beautiful, rare exotic flowering tree of a medium to large size and is considered an obscure spice. It originates from Mexico and South America and is a close relative of Chupa-Chupa (Quararibea cordata). It was known in the ancient times by names of Poyomatli, Xochicacaohuatl or Cacahuaxochitl. These words literally mean, “flower of cacao” even though the plant is not botanically related to cacao. The Aztecs used its highly pungent flowers, to flavor their chocolate drinks. In Mexico today these flowers are known in Spanish as “Flor de Cacao” or “Rosita de Cacao” or “Madre Cacao”.
This aromatic tree produces white flowers (1-2″ wide) which yield an aromatic spice; it is followed by a small sweet-smelling fruit. This evergreen shade tree is very ornamental and has large leathery green leaves up to 15″ long and symmetrical, speading crown. The species was at one time widespread and growing wild throughout the Oaxaca region of Mexico. Due to deforestation, it lost its once wide growth range. Oaxaca is also known for at least two plants which are native to this particular area of the world, both used in Shamanism: Psilocybe mushrooms and Salvia divinorum.
Long before the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico, the Aztecs used these highly pungent flowers to flavor their chocolate drinks. The flowers are mixed with chocolate and other ingredients to concoct a drink called Tejate, a spicy beverage with medicinal and religious significance. Tejate, one of Oaxaca’s best known beverages, deserves a special mention out of all the region’s traditional drinks. Tejate, after all, is not just a drink. It’s a work of art with a recipe spanning thousands of years of Oaxacan history. Such a heavy responsibility lies in the hands of the women of the pueblo, who are taught to prepare the drink even before they learn how to read or write. Female hands have carried on this tradition from the time of pre-Hispanic Zapotec kings and warriors to the present day. The principal ingredient of Tejate is “rosita de cacao”, which can only be found in San Andres Huayapam. Aside from this, Tejate is also made from corn, cinnamon and the seeds and flowers of a special kind of fruit called the mamey. Women who prepare this drink are called “Tejateras.”
In markets and fairs, the tejateras stand behind green glazed tubs armed with checkered aprons and mixing tools. Making Tejate is no easy feat. It is vital, for example, that the seeds and bowls be impeccably neat. It is not uncommon for skilled tejateras to frown upon a brew with the wrong color due to grease on the mamey seeds. Tejate was served in intricately made, finely painted bowls in the older days, but is now scooped up in opaque plastic cups.
What’s actually in a cup of Tejate? Every Tejatera has her own recipe. But you’ll almost always find a blend of nixtamal corn, cacao beans, mamey seed, and rosita de cacao–the secret ingredient that makes Tejate truly special.
In the mid-1800’s, a 16th century Aztec statue of Xochipilli was unearthed on the side of the volcano Popocatapetl. Xochipilli, The Prince of Flowers, is the Aztec god of flowers, maize, love, games, beauty, song and dance (Xochitl = flower, pilli = Prince). He is also referred to as Macuilxochitl, which means “five flowers”. The figure is seated upon a temple-like base, and both the statue and the base are covered in carvings of sacred and psychoactive plants including Mushroom (Psilocybe aztecorum), flower of Tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), flower of Morning Glory (Turbina corymbosa), an unopened flower of Sinicuichi (Heimia salicifolia), an unopened flower of Cacahuaxochitl (Quararibea funebris), and one unidentified flower that is believed to be a stylized cap of Psylocybe aztecorum Mushroom. The statue is now displayed in the Mexican Anthropological Museum. It is believed that Xochipilli is presented in a pose of an ecstasy. The position and expression of the body, in combination with the very clear representations of hallucinogenic plants which are known to have been used in sacred contexts by the Aztec support this interpretation.
Source:Alex Whitmore – toptropicals