Whenever I feel stressed, I tend to eat my troubles away using chocolate. These sweet goodness from Hershey’s, Cadbury and Lindt never fails to make me feel good afterwards, perhaps because “stressed” backwards spells “desserts”. I’m just kidding here. But in actual fact they really do leave me satisfied and happy.
Chocolates have a long history. The story of chocolate begins with the Theobroma cocoa, (Theobroma is Greek for “food of the gods”, which is why chocolate was a luxury item meant for only the rich and royalty back in the old days ) small trees that grew wild in the tropical rainforests of the Amazon basin and other areas in Central and South America. The Maya Indians and the Aztecs recognised the value of cocoa beans then – both as an ingredient for their special ‘chocolate’ drink and as currency – for hundreds of years before cocoa was brought to Europe. Christopher Columbus is said to have brought the first cocoa beans back to Europe from his fourth visit to the ‘New World’ between 1502 and 1504. However far more exciting treasures on board his galleons meant the humble cocoa beans were ignored. It was his fellow explorer, the Spanish Conquistador Don Hernán Cortés, who first realised their commercial value. He brought cocoa beans back to Spain in 1528 and very gradually, the custom of drinking the chocolate spread across Europe, reaching England in the 1650s.
It was only in the 1850s that English man Joseph Fry created the world’s first solid chocolate by adding more cocoa butter, rather than hot water, to cocoa powder and sugar. The chocolate evolved in 1875 when Daniel Peter and Henri Nestle added condensed milk to solid chocolate, creating a milk chocolate bar. Four years later in 1879, the chocolate underwent changes again when Swiss chap Rudolphe Lindt invented the conch, a machine that rotated and mixed chocolate to a perfectly smooth consistency and by 1907, Milton Hershey’s factory was spitting out 33 million kisses per day.
The main types of chocolate that are more popular today are white chocolate, milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate. Each type of chocolate bar contains its own set of unique flavor profiles. Since the cacao bean is the source of all chocolate, its flavours can be imparted by a multitude of variables, such as topography, weather, soil conditions, post-harvesting processing, and of course genotypic properties.
Chocolate makes people happy because it tastes good and provides a moment’s respite from busy, and often stressed-out, lives. For some, chocolate is a guilty pleasure, and we are firm believers in the old adage that forbidden fruit is always the most satisfying. Just seeing chocolate, or inhaling its wonderful aroma, has quickened the beat of many a chocolate-lover’s heart. So now you know what to eat when you feel down in the dumps – chocolate!
Germaine Lee (2 Truth)