Monday, June 1, 2009

It's The History Of Chocolate The Cut Down Edition.

By Maxine Smith

The history of chocolate starts with the cocoa tree which is native to the forests of South and Central America and grows to approximately 20 foot high.

This quite delicate tree starts to produce fruit in its 4th to 5th year. Large yellow or red pods encase a white pulp that hides its treasure of between 20 to 50 cocoa beans.

The cocoa bean was cultivated for centuries by the Maya Indians, the Mexican Aztecs and the Incas of Peru where they had ceremonial significance and were associated with the festivities of births and marriages. At these events they were regularly used as a tribute or money. In some areas only those of the highest ranking could enjoy the wonderful drink boiling these beans could produce.

When the Spanish conquered Mexico in 1519 they were so taken with this chocolaty drink (although they did add sugar to sweeten the taste) they introduced the trees to Trinidad where they closely guarded their secret s of cultivation and preparation. It wasn't long however before the trees spread to the West India Islands and The Philippines'. The Dutch are believed to have introduced them into Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Gull fog Guinea, South America however remained the chief exporter and producer until 1891.

In the Seventeenth century the drink was introduced to the noblemen and women of the courts of Spain, Italy, Germany, France and England. Chocolate was still an expensive luxury even though the secret to its preparation was out in the open. When the first chocolate house was opened in London in 1657, the cost of a pound of chocolate was more than 6 months wages putting it way out of your average 17th century Londones price bracket and making it exclusive to the very wealthy. This was because of the heavy import duty on cocoa beans.

Both drinking and eating chocolate are relatively new inventions that were developed during the 19th century. The chocolate of today was not produced until a Dutchman discovered how to press the cocoa butter out of the beans.

The pressed beans could then produce a much less fatty drinking chocolate that was much more palatable than the rich buttery drink the Aztecs had made centuries earlier. The cocoa butter could then be used to make eating chocolate. These techniques were perfected in 1847 by J.S. Fry and the delicious bit of dreamworld that we know today as chocolate was on sale for the 1st time.

Now while the chocolate games are all very interesting, does it really matter to those of us who just want to gorge ourselves on the sweet creamy taste, how it got here. Or just that it did. The weird thing about history is that it changes all the time and while most things get better and progress naturally forward, Why is there always someone that wants' to screw with a good thing. Something weird is happening to chocolate, it's progressing and getting politically correct, it's getting better for us while losing its delicious taste.

Chocolate doesn't have a hard job to do, it doesn't have to fund the cure for cancer or date Jessica Simpson it just has to tantalize our taste buds and make us smile as we swallow. Chocolate lovers all over the world it's time to pick up your chocolate molds get out of your chocolate fountain and put down your chocolate cake (only for a minute you can pick it up again as soon as we've made our point,) and tell the chocolate makers NO! We don't want inferior chocolate any more; we don't want the no-name, no frills, low calorie, low fat, sugar-free, carob chocolate.

We want our Cadbury's, Mars, Hershey's, Lindts and all those other delectable quality chocolates tasting as rich, creamy and delicious as they should. After all History teaches us to learn by our mistakes and you can't improve on perfection!

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