Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bathroom Monologue: Hot Chocolate Religion

It was tough on the priesthood when the new canon prohibited alcohol. It caused the biggest divide not related to a war in church history. Those who didn’t flee for moister pastures were tasked with devising a new recreation of equal pleasure and, according to an anonymous cardinal, “one that never makes a spiritual leader throw up on the governor again.”

As usual, it was the monks who got around inconvenient canon. This time they concocted milk and crushed cocoa beans. Unlike ale and spirits, it was served warm, sweet and did not intoxicate – at least not in the normal sense. Yet the monks became quite giggly over it all the same, for a property of “special sweetness that enters the tongue and rolls both down the throat and up the nostrils, filling the mind as well as the kidneys.” Friars of temperance happily exchanged the recipe, and soon the fragrance of steaming chocolate as synonymous with monasteries as the fragrance of old paper and eunuchs.

But the monks did not popularize the beverage abroad. That was done by the female priests, a class of priests created just that year to help fill out the ranks of those who had fled to deism and pubs. Women in general adored the beverage as a relaxant and bought it up by the ten-pound bag, for as the first candidate for female bishop put it, “It’s too good not to be made illegal in the next canon.” Female priests claimed it made Sunday meetings more congenial, attracted more children to services, and “lessens the burden of the monthly period.”

Male priests, who were not even certain they had a monthly period to lessen still took to it out of temptation and began private rituals of savoring and competitions of brewing. The addition of the little competition aspect to the drink dramatically increased its popularity amongst men. Even the grumpiest pastors came around, when they realized it was fragrant enough to hide a shot of rum.

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