Pretty sure I’ve been a chocolate fan since the womb.
Who DOESN’T like chocolate? I mean, I know there are people who are allergic to it (bless their hearts), but is there anyone that really just can’t stand it? I’m not talking about white chocolate, either, which is neither good nor actually chocolate. Oooof… that smell.
The origin of cocoa dates back to 2,000 BC in the Amazon. The seeds of the cocoa tree, cacao (pronounced “kuh-KAH-o”), have been used in beverages, as fertility symbols and currency, and offered up to the gods. Early uses of cocoa did not include sugar, which was unknown to the region at that time. It was therefore common to include spices, especially chiles, as a means of adding flavor. It wasn’t until the 1500s that Spanish explorer Hernando Cortéz suggested adding sugar to the mix. This new-and-improved version was reserved for royalty and the elite, and kept a secret by Spain for almost 100 years. In 1615, Anne of Austria, the daughter of Philip III of Spain, gave a sip to her French husband, Louis XIII. From there, a world love affair was born.
Chocolate, these days, is big business. It’s one of the few industries that actually does well in a recession, one little splurge indulged in by many on a budget. On a trip to Belgium a couple years ago, we saw chocolate stores in Brussels that would rival any high-end department store in terms of ambience and displays. You would think those velvet-swathed, ribbon-embellished window features would be hiding some kind of diamond bauble in them, but no. The real gem is the chocolate.
If you are even mildly obsessed with this holiest-of-holy confections, check out these links:
- AllChocolate.com - Probably the most solid site I’ve seen that is devoted to chocolate. From here, you can get a great background on its history and production, and learn about chocolate tastings. Just like wine and coffee, location and blending make a big difference. Find out how to interpret origins, percentages, milk contents, and more.
- Become a chocolatier – As there are pastry chefs devoted to breads or sugar, there are those who dedicate their careers to the cacao bean. A good read if you think making chocolate might be your true calling.
- Chocolatier, the game – Become a chocolatier with this downloadable game by sourcing your way around the globe and dealing with the competition. There’s even Chocolatier 2 and Chocolatier 3 to keep you going.
- Chocolate factory tours – Most of us in the states are familiar with Hershey’s, but here are ten factory tours in the U.S. and around the world that take it to another level. Plan your vacation around it? But, of course.
- Eco-friendly chocolate – As with most edible items these days, there is a growing focus on eco-friendly, sustainable practices in the chocolate world. Learn the basics about organic and fair trade, and read a list of eco-friendly production companies.
- The most expensive chocolates in the world – By the pound, these are the biggies. When those M&Ms just won’t do, here’s how to really win over a chocolate lover’s heart.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
As for that farewell, this is my last little things post on Scoutie Girl. I have loved exploring and sharing with you all the quirky topics that pique my interest, and enjoyed all of your sharing through the comments. If you follow Scoutie Girl regularly, you know that it’s important to take steps to shape the life and career you dream about. In my own molding efforts, I’m restructuring my path and must say goodbye to this column. I owe much gratitude to Tara for allowing me to come on board as a contributor, and to Carrie for keeping all of us writers on track.
If you liked little things, I invite you to follow along over at Dandyville, my curation of all things creative and swell. For more information, and to keep tabs on me and my other work, please visit tinajett.com.
Happy early Valentine’s Day, and much strength and bravery to you all in 2012 and beyond!