*HISTORY OF CHOCOLATE*
The treat so loved worldwide has very humble beginnings. The cacao bean begins life inside a fruit, called a pod, on a tree in the tropics, primarily in remote areas of West
Africa, Southeast Asia and Central and South America.
These delicate, flower-covered trees need much tending and, when farmed using sustainable methods, grow in harmony in tropical forests beneath other cash crops such as
bananas, rubber or hardwood trees. Grown on small family farms, the beans leave cocoa farms by hand, in carts, on donkeys or rugged trucks to be sold to a local buyer
and then to processors abroad.
The cocoa "beans" that form the basis of chocolate are actually seeds from the fruit of the cacao tree, which grows near the Equator. The seeds grow inside a pod-like fruit
and are covered with white pulp. To make chocolate, cocoa farmers crack open the pods, scoop out the seeds, ferment them and dry them. The beans are shipped to
factories, where manufacturers inspect and clean them, then roast and grind them into a paste called chocolate liquor. More pressing, rolling, mixing with sugar and other
ingredients, and heating and cooling yields delicious chocolate. Humans’ love affair with chocolate began at least 4,000 years ago in Mesoamerica, in present-day southern
Mexico and Central America, where cacao grew wild. When the Olmecs unlocked the secret of how to eat this bitter seed, they launched an enduring phenomenon. Since
then, people around the world have turned to chocolate to cure sickness, appease gods, show love, buy rabbits, fete holidays, survive fasts, ward off scorpions and sustain warriors.
To bite the corner off a glossy chocolate bar, then feel it melt and swirl slowly on the tongue, can be divine. With its 1,500 flavor compounds, chocolate provides plenty to
contemplate. It can seem fruity or spicy, earthy or sweet, or like lavender or lemons or liqueur—the list goes on and on. Chocolate’s smooth texture helps make it wonderful.
While the unmistakable chocolate taste gets all the glory, cocoa butter provides chocolate’s creamy goodness because it melts just below body temperature. Most
chocolatiers add extra amounts when they make their chocolates.
Enjoying chocolate is all about discovering what you like best