I am not a big fan of chocolate! There, I said it! Its not something I crave nor do I get excited by it. But, I am in a minority. More and more chocolatiers and chocolate based businesses are popping up in cities and towns across this wide brown land. I know many people just who love chocolate, and would do anything for it. I am not one of those people.
In the interests of finding out what might be wrong with me, I decided to do some research on chocolate. It is an aphrodisiac apparently and when made well can be an amazing sensory experience, and it seems it not only makes you randy, but allows you to think better. Hand me the Haighs please!
My research suggests that chocolate was originally used more than 2,500 years ago, beginning in Central America. The Mayan civilisation considered Cacao to be a gift of divine proportions and so, it was held in high regard. It was used ceremoniously and in some cases, was considered a form of currency. The name ‘Cacao’ is a Mayan word meaning ‘god food’ which after being introduced to Europe in the 16th century, formed the basis of the Latin name for the Cacao tree ‘Theobrama Cacao’ meaning ‘food for the gods’. It is thought that the word ‘cocoa’ has come about through a miss-spelling of ‘cacao.’
Where does the name chocolate come from? Some people suggest it is from the Aztec word xocalati meaning bitter water. Not surprising, considering they made a drink, by mixing cacao beans with chillies, achiote, cornmeal, and some reports suggest the inclusion hallucinogenic Mushrooms. This may explain why people when back for seconds and also, could explain why it is considered something that can get you in the mood!
It is also thought in some circles that, because of the small amount of caffeine that is found in chocolate, that it acts like a mild amphetamine. It also has the same result a mild antidepressant – it works by increasing serotonin and endorphin activity in the brain.
Chocolate is produced in just 15 of the world’s 193 countries. Almost 35% is grown in the Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) in Africa. Ghana, Cameroon and Nigeria produce another 30% of the world’s chocolate. Indonesia and Brazil produce around 20% collectively, with Ecuador producing another 4%. That means almost 90% of the worlds chocolate comes from just 7 countries.
Dont just eat it, wear it as well. Cocoa butter is a by product of chocolate and is used for soft skin in creams, butters, massage oils and skin care treatments.
The biggest ever chocolate was made in Melbourne, right here in Victoria. It was an Easter Egg that was more than 3 metres tall and weighed about 2033kg – more than 3 times the weight of a Smart Car.
To enjoy some amazing chocolatey experiences, check out Haighs. They have a long history of producing great chocolate here in Australia. Haigh’s opened their very first s
For something a little more… sensual, look for chocolates made by Just Sweets in Altona. I have it on good authority that their rocky road is amazing.
The Margaret River Chocolate Company produces the best in the west! Savour Chocolate and Patisserie in Brunswick runs all manner of chocolate classes. Koko Black has stores across the Melbourne CBD and there are boutique outlets like Ganache on Toorak Road, South Yarra. Cacao has 5 stores across Melbourne and the sweet toothed other half loves their products most of all.
Oh and drink a dark beer like stout with chocolate or a jolly good glass of red wine. You will be indulging with something healthy at the same time.