HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE
Chocolate has ancient, exotic origins.
It comes from an evergreen plant in Mesoamerica, named in the 18thCentury by the Swedish botanist Carlo Linnaeus Theobroma cacao (from theos, meaning ‘god’, and broma, meaning ‘food’) and therefore the common definition as the food of the Gods.
The Maya civilization was the first to grow in 1000 B.C. cacao in Yucatan, Chiapas and Guatelama; archeological sites provide clear evidence that the Aztecs of Central Mexico were the first to use it as a drink, they named this beverage xocolātl, meaning “hot water”.
They worshipped a God called Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent that had given to the first men the cacao tree.
The cacao beverage was a real energizer for warriors, it relieved and eliminated fatigue, reinforced will-power, stimulated physical and mental strength.
The Conquistadores brought back to Europe first the seeds and then the beans and liquid chocolate became a fashionable drink in Spain, France and in Venice!
CHOCOLATE IN VENICE IN THE 18TH CENTURY
The playwright Carlo Goldoni started his play La Conversazione in this way:
‘Che bevanda delicata! Che diletto che mi dà!
Viva pur la cioccolata, che dà gusto e sanità’
‘what a delicate drink, what a delight each sip
it gives flavour and health, for chocolate hip hip’
Goldoni described this drink several times also in La Bottega del Caffè
‘Portate a quella signora caffè, cioccolata, tutto quello che vuole.
Bring the lady coffee, chocolate, all what she wishes.
Una volta correva l’acquavite, ora è in voga il caffè.
Once people drank brandy, now coffee is in fashion.
Andate a tostare il caffè per farne una caffettiera di fresco.
Go and roast the coffee for a fresh coffee.’
Nowadays you can step into a bright, very well lit chocolate shop Vizio e Virtù, just ‘1 bridge away’ from the Ponte di Rialto. The first reaction of chocolate lovers is to murmur an onomatopoeic mmmm sound; a sweet, pleasant smell pervades our nostrils in a very positive way.
Mariangela opened her first premium quality shop in 2015 in the San Polo district, then moved into this present bigger location nearly 2 years ago.
She can give in approx. 30 minutes a ‘sweet’ experience, a more in depth overview of the evolution of chocolate, this in a friendly and relaxing atmosphere.
How is gourmet chocolate made?
It all starts from a cacao tree and a cacao pod.
Cacao trees grow low in equatorial humid, warm areas such as Middle America and have to be kept low to make easier the harvest by means of a machete or long sticks with sharp blades of the fruit cacao pod that grows on the trunk (not from the flower as it would weigh too much).
A cacao pod is approx. 25 cm long. It is initially green, then ripens to yellow, orange, and red; it contains inside 20 to 60 seeds, called beans, these within a white juicy pulp.
These beans are dried in the sun and are then roasted, ground and the raw ingredient is ready that is then packed and stocked in jute sacks.
Which ingredients are added to the roasted beans?
Sugar, milk and then the ‘cement’ of chocolate, cacao butter.
The best way to learn about this evolution is to start tasting first of all liquid chocolate on a base of water, but not milk. Then you will discover the by chance invention of dragées…
Last but not least you will taste different types of pralinés rich in flavours…
For further info send me an email please.