Happy Chocolate Day!
I can’t believe there is a whole day to celebrate my favorite flavor. So I asked Google if she’d tell me all about it.
July 7, 1550 is the day marked for when Europe discovered chocolate. Well…they didn’t actually discover it. Chocolate was introduced to European society by those ambitious explorers who came back from Mexico, Central and South America.
The joys of chocolate had been enjoyed by the people of Mesoamerica for centuries before the Spanish conquerers. In 1200-1300 BC, an ancient tribe in South Central Mexico called the Olmecs were the first to domesticate the plant and use it as part of their diet.
The Mayans recognized cacao’s a mood enhancement qualities, used it in their ceremonies and gave it as gifts. Maybe they started the chocolate-giving Valentine’s craze? They were also the first to use the beans to create a frothy drink similar to our hot chocolate. Cacao appears in much or their mythology.
In 900 AD Toltecs fought with the Mayans over the right to the cacao field rights (and won), and in the 14th century, the Aztecs reserved the beans for the empire’s nobility and used them as currency. You could get a really good chicken for 30 beans.
But back then, chocolate wasn’t the sweet treat it is today. Mixed with spices and chilis, it was bitter. Enter the Spanish in the 16th century, add milk and sugar… mix thoroughly…and voile…millions of chocoholics were created. The chocolate craze spread through Europe like wild fire. Especially in France.
Speaking of France…an enjoyable little flick called Chocolat was released in 2000 with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche. It’s about a mysterious woman of Mayan-descent who opens a chocolate shop in a small French village…during Lent. Chocolat depicts two opposing worldviews of sacred vs secular on the surface, but goes far beyond the seemingly obvious.
So, enjoy Chocolate Day! And if you missed it, there’s two more opportunities to indulge. Like us chocoholics need an excuse….but I digress.
National Chocolate Day on October 28th
World Chocolate Day on September 4th
I’ll leave you with a little Chocolate Wisdom in case you can’t find a candy bar.