They say diamonds are a girls best friend, but I think Chocolate is. My journey with chocolate started when I was a young girl. Every day after school my mother would have something wonderful to eat waiting for us. Usually something chocolate like brownies, fudge, Ding Dongs, See’s candy or cake. No wonder she became diabetic later in life. For many years I did not eat the stuff fearing it was bad for me and I would end up like my mother in the end. But now I eat it with fervor and gusto buying the darkest I can find because now they say it is good for you. Remember Bill Bryson’s A Short History of Nearly Everything? He said, “90 percent of what we thought was true has turned out to be false.” Okay, I paraphrased it because I don’t have his book with me, but you get the picture right? It was bad for you and now it’s good for you. I just hope that this is not wrong as well.
Anyway, my daughter Ashley and I visited the Gourmet Chocolate Museum, I have been wanting to visit, so it was not a hard decision to make. It has three floor which take you through the 4.000 years of the history of chocolate, from the Olmecs to our present day civilization. There are all sorts of artifacts and interesting tidbits that I was not aware of. For example, in 1615 Anne of Austria marries Louis XIII and brings hot chocolate to the court of France. They all love it and they really love her for bringing such delicious goodness to France, and that is how chocolate ended up in France. Thank you Anne of Austria!
The exhibit shows pottery from the Aztecs as well as tableau’s…the picture below shows how they use to worship Gods and leave the chocolate as a gift. “Please don’t kill us, have some of this delicious stuff we made, and we can also take the heart out of a few people if that helps.”
There are pots and cups that are used just for the hot liquid of goodness…I want some of these pots so bad. There are gold and silver and porcelain and most of them have that fun stick poking out of the middle so you can stir up your cocoa before you pour.
At the end of the exhibit you can go into the kitchen and watch how they make the chocolate which you can buy upstairs. Then you get a taste of those yummy chocolates as well as a cup of Hot Chocolate, which is hot milk and a stick that has a big chunk of chocolate on the end that dissolves into your hot milk giving you…that’s right! Hot Chocolate!
By the way, the Chocolate bar did not always exist. (those poor deprived people) First there was the drinking of chocolate, thank you to the Mayas and Aztecs, who made it with water, peppers, honey etc. Then in 1674 the London store Coffee Mill and Tobasco Roll made “Spanish style chocolate rolls” which could be bitten into. Oh joy of joys! Then the mold came about for those people of wealth who could afford to have molded chocolate.
It was pretty much all dark chocolate until 1875 when Henri Nestlé invented Condensed Milk and Daniel Peter, a Swiss dude developed a recipe for milk chocolate. Now days we tend to lean back towards the dark stuff which is what you should eat because it is darn good for your body and mind. Read below, I copied, cause seriously, I didn’t want to re-type all that stuff and what if I misspelled polyphenolbla bla bla…
The value of cocoa polyphenols in preventing heart disease
Dark chocolate and milk chocolate (but not white chocolate) contain molecules called polyphenols that can be divided into tannins, epicatechin, catechins and procyanidins.
Polyphenols have several beneficial effects and in particular they prevent the oxidation of fat.(Schweet)
The action of preventing oxidation is done by neutralizing the free radicals, a form of oxygen that oxidizes LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) fats. This prevents the alteration of the arterial walls by deposits of oxidized fats which in turn prevent the development of atheroma and atherosclerosis.
This antioxidant effect is reinforced by other substances contained in chocolate such as vitamin E, beta carotene and copper.
Polyphenols therefore have a beneficial effect not only on the cardiovascular system, but also:
– on the container by protecting the arteries
– on the content, the blood, by making it more fluid
No other foodstuff provides these two beneficial effects.
In 2010 Brian Buijsse proved that it is not necessary to consume a great deal of chocolate every day in order to protect the heart.(but I still do) He calculated that 7.5 gr of dark chocolate a day are sufficient to protect the heart from disease. During his study that lasted 8 years, adults who consumed during this period 7.5 gr of chocolate a day (compared to those who only ate 1.7 gr a day) had lower blood pressure and their risk of cardiovascular disease and strokes diminished by 48% whilst the risk of heart attack decreased by 27%. To include a small amount (you are kidding right? Small?)of chocolate in the daily diet is therefore an excellent protection against cardiovascular disease.
So, there you have it, you should eat a lot of chocolate every day. Or perhaps you could wear it like these ladies…
And one last thing: Which Charlie and the Chocolate Factory did you like? The original with Gene Wilder…
Or the re-make with Johnny Depp?