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Chocolate Dreams by Ridhi Chhabra


A world without chocolates




Ridhi Chhabra-fnbworld 

fnbworld bureau/Ridhi Chhabra




The great traveller Christopher Columbus returned from his fourth voyage to the New World in 1502 and introduced chocolate to Spain. Since then, it has continued to grow in popularity with the Spaniards, who had learned its use from the Aztecs at the time of the invasion by the Spanish explorer Hern¡n Cortis in 1519. Cortis tasted chocolate prepared by the Aztecs and learned how to convert the bitter bean into a wonderful drink.

He brought this treasure back to Spain where the origin and preparation method remained a secret for nearly 100 years. In France, chocolate was met with skepticism and was considered a "barbarous product and noxious drug". The French court was doubtful and accepted it only after the Paris faculty of medicine gave its approval. A French queen finally saved the day. In 1615, Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII declared chocolate as the drink of the French court. During the early seventeenth century, chocolate found its way to Italy and England, among other European countries.

Lindt Chocolates-fnbworld

In 1650, chocolate became the rage in Oxford and in 1657, a shop called the The Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll opened in London. Although chocolate was not featured, the drink quickly became a best seller. As the popularity of chocolate grew, England imposed an excessive duty of 10-15 shillings per pound. By the way, the duty was comparable to approximately three-fourths its weight in gold.

It took almost 200 years before the duty was dropped. In the United States, chocolate was first manufactured in 1765. It was introduced at Milton Lower Mills, near Dorchester, Massachusetts by John Hanau and James Baker who opened a processing house. The Swiss began making chocolate in the mid 1800's.

Switzerland, at the time, had cows but did not have abundant commodities of chocolate and sugar. In 1876, M. Daniel Peter attempted to add milk to chocolate to produce a smoother chocolate. However, adding water to chocolate made the chocolate shrink, separate and generally disintegrate. Milk has water in it, and it took Peter 8 years of experimenting before taking his product to Henry Nestle, a maker of evaporated milk. Nestle had perfected the manufacture of condensed milk, and he and Peter hit upon the idea of mixing sweetened condensed milk with chocolate.

The invention of the cocoa press in 1828 by C. J. Van Houten, a Dutch chocolate master, helped reduce the price of chocolate and bring it to the masses. By squeezing out cocoa butter from the beans, Van Houten's "dutching" was an alkalizing process which removed the acidity and bitterness, which is why alkali processed cocoa is also called Dutch chocolate. Chocolate was available only as cocoa or as a liquid until 1879. It was Rodolphe Lindt who thought to add cocoa butter back to the chocolate. Adding the additional cocoa butter helped the chocolate set up into a bar that "snaps" when broken as well as melting on the tongue. Chocolate Candies It was World War I that really brought attention to chocolate candies.

The U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps had commissioned various American chocolate manufacturers to provide 20 - 40 pound blocks of chocolate to be shipped to bases in the field. The blocks were chopped up into smaller pieces and distributed to doughboys in Europe. Eventually the task of making smaller pieces was turned back to the manufacturers. By the end of the War when the doughboys arrived home, the American chocolate business was assured. Why? Because the returning doughboys had grown fond of chocolate candy and now as civilians wanted more of the same. 600 AD Culture and Cocoa The Mayas undertook a massive migration which led this highly civilised people from Central America deep into the northern regions of South America. In Yucatan they established the earliest known cocoa plantations.

There is no doubt, however, that the Mayas must have been familiar with cocoa several centuries earlier. 1000 AD Beans and Figures From the very early days of cocoa the peoples of Central America used beans as a form of payment. The use of cocoa beans as units of calculation must a1so have become established before A.D. 1000. One Zontli equalled 400 cocoa beans, while 8ooo beans equalled one Xiquipilli.

In Mexican picture scripts a basket with 8000 beans represents the figure 8000. 1200 Chocolate War By subjugating the Chimimeken and the Mayas, the Aztecs strengthened their supremacy in Mexico. Records dating from this period include details of deliveries of cocoa which were imposed as tributes on conquered tribes. 1502 Columbus and the Cocoa Bean On his fourth voyage to America, Columbus landed on 30th July 1502 in Nicaragua and was the first European to discover cocoa beans.

These were used by the natives as currency and also in the preparation of a delightful drink. But Columbus, who was still searching for the sea route to India, was not interested in cocoa. 1513 Payment in Beans Hernando de Oviedo y Valdez, who went to America in 1513 as a member of Pedrarias Avila's expedition, reports that he bought a slave for 100 cocoa beans.  A Spanish Bank Hernando Cortez, who conquered part of Mexico in 1519, finds the taste of cocoa not particularly pleasant and is, therefore, much more interested in the value of cocoa as a means of payment. He immediately establishes in the name of Spain a cocoa plantation where, henceforth, " money" will be cultivated.

1528 Sweet Plunder

In 1528, Cortez brings back to Europe the first cocoa and the utensils necessary for its preparation. 1609 The first Chocology "Libro en el cual se trata del chocolate" is the title of a book which appear- ed in Mexico in 1609. It is the first book devoted entirely to the subject of chocolate. 1615 Fruitful Marriage The Spanish princess Anna of Austria marries Louis XIII and intro- duces, amongst other Spanish customs, the drinking of chocolate at the French court. 1657 A Frenchman in London London's first chocolate shop is opened by a Frenchman in 1657. 1662 A Solomon of Chocolate After Pope Pius V had found cocoa so unpleasant that he declared, in 1569, that "this drink does not break the fast", the supreme church of Rome became more and more tolerant towards the exquisite beverage.

The question of the fast took on a new urgency. In 1662, Cardinal Bran- caccio hands down the judgment of Solomon: "Liquidum non frangit jejunum." In other words: "Liquids (in the form of chocolate) do not break the fast." Clearly, one had to wait until Easter to indulge in the eating of chocolate. In 1670, seaman Helmsman Pedro Bravo do los Camerinos decides that he has had enough of Christian voyages of exploration and settles in the Philippines, where he spends the rest of his life planting cocoa, thus laying the foundations for one of the great plantations of that time.

1671 Blissful Accident

A clumsy kitchen-boy drops a bowlful of almonds on the floor. The angry chef tries to box his ears and, in the process, spills a panful of hot, burnt sugar over the almonds. The Duke of Plesslis-Praslin, a marshal who is renowned as a gourmet, is waiting for his dessert. "What now?" thinks his personal chef and, in desperation, serves the marshal with the almonds covered with a coating of cooled sugar. The guest is delighted with the novel dessert and promptly gives his name to the new sweet. Not, however, the full name, but simply "Praslin".

Since then this sweet has undergone many changes, including the development of the modern term "praline" from the originzl name. 1674 Roll Call "At the Coffee Mill and Tobacco Roll" was the name of a famous London coffee-house where, as early as 1674, one could enjoy chocolate in cakes and rolls "in the Spanish style".

1677 A Royal Decree

On the strength of a royal decree dated 1st November 1677, Brazil - later to achieve an important position in the world market - establishes in the State of Par the first cocoa plantations. 1697 Premiere in Zurich Heinrich Escher, the mayor of Zurich, visits Brussels where he drinks chocolate and returns to his home town with tidings of the new sweet drink. 1704 Chocolate Tax Towards the end the 17th century, chocolate makes its appearance in Ger many.

The policy of restricting the importation of foreign produce leads Frederick I of Prussia to impose a tax on chocolate in 1704. Anyone wishing to pay homage to its pleasures has to pay two thalers for a permit. 1711 Chocolate Migration Emperor Charles VI transfers his court from Madrid to Vienna in 1711. With the court, chocolate moves in by via the blue Danube. 1720 Chocolateers As early as 1720, the coffee-houses of Florence and Venice are offering chocolate whose reputation reaches far beyond the country's borders.

Italian chocolateers, well versed in the art of making chocolate, are, therefore, welcome visitors in France, Germany and Switzerland. 1747 No Hawkers In the year 1747, Frederick the Great forbids all manner of hawking, especially the hawking of chocolate. 1755 Last but not Least America, in those days not yet the land of plenty, learns of chocolate relatively late, in fact, not until 1755.

1780 First Factory

About the year 1780, the first machine-made chocolate is produced in Barcelona. 1792 Two from the Grisons in Berlin The Josty brothers from the Grisons made a major contribution to the repu- tation of Swiss chocolate in Germany.

In 1792 they open a confectioner's shop and chocolate factory in Berlin. Eberty, the historian, sings the praises of their products: "Everything which one got at Josty's was excellent, and the chocolate really first rate." 1797 Cautious Goethe Johann Wolfgang von Goethe does not have much confidence in the Swiss hotel industry. For his tour of Switzerland in 1797 he includes in his luggage chocolate and a chocolate pot.

1810 Toy of the League Venezuela

Leading position in the production of cocoa is established. A survey in the year 1810 shows that this country produces half the world's requirements. One third of the world's entire cocoa production is consumed by the Spaniards.

1819 Pioneers

The first Swiss chocolate factory is set up in a former mill near Vevey. The founder, Fran‡ois-Louis Cailler, had learned the secrets of the choco- late-making trade in Italy. 1822 Ornamental Plant The Portuguese Jos‚ Ferreira Gomes introduces the cocoa tree as an ornamental plant on the small island of Principe in the Gulf of Guinea off the west coast of Africa. 1857 The Swiss in Afrika Under the encouragement of the Portuguese Baron of Agua Iz, the culti- vation of cocoa passes from Principe on the neighbouring island of Sao Thome, and from there to the African continent.

In Ghana, the members of the Basle Mission promote it successfully. Surprisingly quickly, the many small and medium farmers develop the country into one of the most important producers. 1875 With Milk After eight years of experiment, the Swiss Daniel Peter puts the first milk chncolate on the market in 1875. 1879 Melting Sweetness Rodolphe Lindt of Berne produces chocolate which melts on the tongue for the first time in the year 1879. 1900 Changes in Leadership Spain, formerly the classic land of chocolate, falls far behind. Germany takes the lead in consumption per head, followed by the United States, France and Great Britain. In just a decade or two anothet country will be playing first violin in the orchestra of the chocolate nations - Switzerland.

The reputation of Swiss chocolate, bolstered by an unbroken series of medals at international exhibitions, has not only fallen upon the ears of foreigners. It has also conquered Swiss palates. Like bratwurst, rosti and fondue, chocolate has become a national dish.


(Note: The article is an fnbworld staff compilation by Ridhi Chhabra - chocolatier, while main source is: Chocologie published by Chocosuisse CH-3000 Bern).

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