Chocolate. The treat that makes life sweeter around the world carries a story of exotic places, long journeys and small family farms where the delicate crop grows. As you peel back a chocolate wrapper or open a box, you’re uncovering the seed of a fruit that grows on tropical trees and joining people around the world who have turned to this mysterious food for ritual and enjoyment for the past 4000 years. How do the fruit seeds in farmers’ hands become irresistible sweets in yours? Let’s explore the story of chocolate.
Chocolate is the object of our devotion.
It’s a sensory journey not just to eat it, but also to smell it and look at it – just unwrapping a piece can be fun! Chocolate didn’t begin the way we see it today. As a matter of fact, the initial chocolates were harsh and sharp, nothing like the creamed, pleasant consistency we are familiar with today.
The Mayans first brewed the cacao bean, and the Aztecs perfected this practice by adding flavorings and maize to break down its unpleasant qualities.
The Aztecs were not stubborn by consuming a god-awful drink. They were faithful to the divine qualities of the fruit, as well as the health benefits that it provides: energy, increased attention, and temperature.
The cacao bean was brought to the new world by Spanish explorer Hernan Cortes who, despite his attempts of keeping the valuable bean a secret, introduced it to Europe and eventually the rest of the world. Used first as a currency, and then expanding its purpose as a source of food, it wasn’t long until the word spread of the fruit of almost magical qualities.
The primitive uses of chocolate (strictly for beverages) were perfected by Spaniards and Europeans alike. Nevertheless, its production didn’t fall far from the practices employed by the Mayans and Aztecs. With the advent of the hydraulic press introduced by Dutchman Coenraad Van Houten in the 1800s, chocolate took a new turn. Cocoa powder was the first food item to be developed and commercialized, followed by rustic forms of chocolate bars that were only possible in air of the Dutch hydraulic press.
Over the years, chocolate has adopted many forms. It’s available not only for making beverages and confectioneries, but also for the production of patisseries and savory dishes alike.
Since the early days of chocolate making following the invention of the hydraulic press, chocolate has been used a gift for many occasions. Also associated with feelings of sensory pleasure and love, it has found a place in our heart since the very beginning.