A Brief Narrative
All chocolate lovers worldwide live by one very common belief that almost brings them together as a family; Life would not be the same without chocolate.
Chocolate, a descendant of the cacao plant, which was assigned a scientific name ‘Theobromine’, meaning ‘The food of the Gods’, by the eighteenth century naturalist ‘Linnaeus’, was, as the name would have it, a heavenly concoction reserved only for the pleasures and tastes of kings and queens and was therefore kept a secret from the rest of the world for a very long time.
The royal creation was considered so divine that when the golden cups that were used to serve it became empty, they were disposed of.
The inhabitants of Central America a few centuries ago, had been using cacao beans as their form of currency at a time when other places would trade in gold. As an example of the value of the cacao bean currency, in 1513, the cost of a slave was 100 beans.
In 1528, cocoa was brought back to Spain by Cortez on his return home, however chocolate was kept a secret and hidden from the rest of the world for almost a century until France's Louis XIII married a Spanish princess in 1615. The new queen introduced chocolate to the royal court to notable figures like Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift.
In these establishments, Londoners
could try chocolate cakes and rolls "in the Spanish style." Soon an expatriate Frenchman introduced a competitor: the chocolate house, where the local intelligentsia could play cards, hear the latest news, and enjoy the Spanish treat. Once England fell in love with chocolate, it wasn't long before their American colonies would too. In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin included 120 pounds of chocolate among a regiment's essential provision during the French and Indian War.
And in a 1785 letter to John Adams, Thomas Jefferson applauded "the superiority of chocolate, both for health and nourishment."
Today, chocolate still holds a very important place in our culture. To many, it is the epitome of culinary delight. For children, it is the sometimes forbidden fruit. High-quality chocolate is always a coveted gift. All traditional holidays around the world have been inherently associated to the enjoyment of chocolate, a long-treasured treat with a very rich history. Yet still as we are lost in the all-consuming thrill of biting down on a bar of fine chocolate, we can easily forget that chocolate represents more than just a personal pleasure and that this ‘food of the Gods’ dates back to a time in history when it was accessible to only the most elite in society.
From ancient feasts to the modern rituals of February fourteenth, chocolate will continue to play a most prominent and varied role in many cultures across the globe.
A brief narrative