Anima Dulcis (Arquiste)

The legend: "November 1695, Mexico City. Deep inside the halls of the Royal Convent of Jesus Maria, a group of reverent nuns prepares a Baroque recipe of spiced Cocoa. The brew is infused with an assortment of chilies that tempt rapture, and the air is rich with the scent of exotic spices. After centuries of safe-keeping within this closed world, their secrets are finally revealed to the senses."

The truth: Google "Royal Convent of Jesus Maria Mexico City" (or Real Convento de Jesús María Ciudad de México) and you'll find that most of the results refer to Arquiste Anima Dulcis. Despite this snippet supposedly on file at Columbia University, it appears to me that the Royal Convent is more likely a construct of Carlos Huber's ripe imagination than an actual landmark. Furthermore, Arquiste's fanciful depiction of the nuns' "secret" seems more like turgid convent fan fiction than an accurate portrayal of contemplative life. Noble-born virgins transplanted to the New World to grind endlessly away at their metates in a state of sensual transport? ¿En serio? If this were Catholic school and I was a parent, I'd wonder exactly where my tuition money was going. As it is, my adolescence spent shilling boxes of candy door-to-door to raise funds for a new altar places me squarely in the midst of the skeptic's camp. The Catholic Church did not invent chocolate; it merely turned it into a long con. Real xocolatl is almost four thousand years old, a thoroughly pagan ritual food still found today on every home altar south of the border. Go ahead. Google it... or ask your abuela.

The reality: A commonplace amber with a sheer film of cocoa powder riding on top; nothing at all memorable, let alone sacred.

Scent Elements: Cacao absolute, Mexican vanilla, cinnamon, chili