A Chocolate Guide: a User's Manual

A Chocolate guide: a user's manual on chocolate history, making chocolate, cooking with chocolate and chocolate recipes.

| November/December 1988

Learn about chocolate's history, how to make chocolate, ways to cook with chocolate and some special chocolate recipes to enjoy. 

A Chocolate Guide: a User's Manual

"Every man who feels that
he has become
temporarily foolish;
every man who finds
the hours long
and the atmosphere
difficult to breathe;
every man who
becomes obsessed with an idea
that takes away his
freedom of thought-
every one of them,
I say, should
take a good pint dose
of chocolate flavored
with ambergris."

Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin
The Physiology of Taste, 1825

AMBERGRIS, A WAXY Substance derived from sperm whales, is hard to come by these days. Chocolate, mercifully, is not. Cocoa beans are the third largest international cash crop, after coffee and sugar. While the United States doesn't grow any of those beans, it does lead in the manufacture of chocolate. Americans consume an average of 12 pounds per person per year, which puts them fifth in the world, behind the Swiss (22 pounds), the English (15), the West Germans (14) and the Belgians (13.6). With magazines, newsletters, associations and festivals devoted entirely to its celebration, chocolate has become a sweet obsession.

Chocolate: Food of the Gods 

A native of Central America, the cocoa tree has been cultivated for centuries. The Aztecs considered it a gift from Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom and knowledge, who gave them the arts, the calendar and chocolate. Cocoa was so valuable that the beans were used as currency: eight for a rabbit, 100 for a slave. What the Aztecs didn't spend they smashed into a paste, then mixed with water or wine for a rather bitter, peppery beverage. Montezuma II adored it. The last emperor of the Aztecs, he drank 50 flagons a day—cold and frothy, seasoned with honey, spices and vanilla (another Central American native).

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