Thank you God for chocolate, is a phrase said by many when they want to satisfy their sweet tooth or want to cheer up their mood.
It’s probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you want to eat something sweet, because let’s face it 90% of the desserts are chocolate based. Have you ever wondered about the lucky person who discovered this sweet delicacy? Well it wasn’t actually a person but a whole civilization that we owe our thanks to.
Let’s take a trip down the pre-Columbian times, while many argue that the Aztecs discovered chocolate but it was actually the Mayans who are responsible for introducing it to the world.
It all started around 250 AD when the Mayan civilization discovered that the beans inside the cocoa pods can be used to make a drink called ‘Xocolatl’
You will be surprised to know that it was discovered as a drink not as a bar. The Mayans had huge cocoa plantations and harvested it by combing cocoa beans, chili peppers and water named as bitter water; sugar wasn’t discovered till then. The cocoa beans had high value in the market and was often used as currency.
The Mayans even made wall pictographs of their gods enjoying the drink. They had named the cocoa bean as the ‘food of the gods’ which showed just how important the bean was in their times.
When the Aztec army attacked, they discovered the secret of the Mayan civilization. Since the Mayans had lost hold and taxes were due, the Aztec soldiers were paid handsomely with cocoa beans and large vats of the bitter drink was offered to them. Unlike the Mayans, it was a drink only the rich could afford.
One thing that the past and present both agree on is that both civilizations believed the drink to be a magical potion, mood enhancer, aphrodisiac and energy drink.
The bitter sweet potion traveled to Europe in 1528 when the Spanish explorer, Hernando Cortes, attended a wedding in which he was served the magical drink. But it didn’t go well with his Spanish taste buds. Cortes later found out the value of chocolate the same value as gold and set up huge cocoa plantations for the drink to be imported to Spain and managed to keep the recipe a secret till 80 years.
When the drink traveled to Spain, there were new additions in the recipe. They sweetened the drink, added sugarcane to alleviate the taste and voila! Hot chocolate was discovered. It travelled quickly throughout Europe but the drink was still a rich privilege.
In 1928 a remarkable discovery was made by a Dutch chemist, Coenraad Van Houten, which was the Cocoa Press
It was able to squeeze the cocoa butter from the drink leaving only the powder. More over Houten enhanced the flavor by adding alkaline salts to the powder which gave the drink a rich and creamy flavor. This process was called Dutch cocoa and named after the chemist. The invention was very important in terms of adding different variants and flavors as the separation of the cocoa butter from the powder led to the different flavors of chocolates being invented. You would not have had the chance to try milk and white chocolate and cocoa powder for baking purposes, if the cocoa press had not been invented.
In 1847, the Dutch cocoa press led to the breakthrough of the first eatable chocolate bar, by Joseph Fry. This was the turning point in the history of chocolate, after years of drinking the beverage, it finally made its way as an eatable bar, devoured worldwide.
Fry’s invention opened up a whole new world of imagination in baker’s paradise
Soon variants of milk chocolate, pralines, ganache etc., led to a whole new category of chocolate desserts that are easily available in bakeries today. This magical bean sure came a long way, from being a beverage of the gods to being available in tons of nutty flavored bars, it has definitely raised the sweet tooth bar up high like no one else.
The industry giants such as Cadbury, Nestle, Hershey’s, Lindt and Godiva also played a huge part in popularizing this sweet decadent dessert to the rest of the world. If you see the present day scenario, chocolate has definitely taken over the world, from sharing different recipes, to making movies and documentaries about this dessert. It’s the only thing the world turns to when they need to brighten up their day. From making up for bad fights to improving bad moods instantly, it has truly defined itself as a magical potion.
Japanese chocolates have recently surpassed American chocolates in flavors and in diversity.
They are the modern maestros who excel in introducing exceptional flavors and taste that one can only experience. www.Conbini.com is an online store that excels in providing Japanese cultural foods worldwide. Log onto the website and get to experience the true taste of Japanese culture in just a few clicks.