The Food of The Gods: Historical Timeline
2000 BCE: Earliest documented use of cacao seeds in Mexico dates back to the Olmec culture. (El primer uso documentado de semillas de cacao en México data de la cultura olmeca.)
1200-1521: The Aztecs consider cacao seeds as more precious than gold and use them as currency. (Los aztecas consideran las semillas de cacao mas valiosas que el oro y las usan como moneda)
1606: Chocolate arrives in Italy and is infused with exotic flavors such as jasmine and ambergris. (El chocolate llega a Italia y se infunde con sabores exóticos como el jazmin y el ámbar gris.)
1655: Chocolate lands in Engliand where it is sold as a "West Indian drink" alongside coffee and tea. Touted for its aphrodisiac qualities, it is said that a mere lick wound would, "make old women young and fresh." (El chocolate aterriza en Inglaterra donde se vende como una "bebida de las Indias Occidentales" junto con el café y el té. Se promociona por su calidades afrodisíacas. Se decía que una simple lamida "haría que las mujeres mayores fueran jóvenes y frescas."
1765: Dr. James Baker and John Hannon found the first chocolate factory in the US with cacao imported from the equador. Today the company's name is known as Baker's Chocolate. (Dr. James Baker y John Hannon fundan la primera fábrica de chocolate en los Estados Unidos, hoy conicida como Baker's Chocolate.)
1727: Milk is first added to drinking chocolate in France. (La leche se agrega por primera vez al chocolate para beber en Francia.)
1828: Dutch chemist Coenraad van Houten's inventions of cocoa powder enables the creation of solid chocolate confections. (Las invenciones del cacao en polvo del químicos holandés Coenraad van Houten permiten la creación de dulces de chocolate.)
1847: Using techologies invented by the Dutch and the Swiss, Joseph Fry & Son revolutionizes the industry by creating the first chocolate bar in England. (Utilizando nuevas tecnologías inventadas por los holandeses y los suizos, Joseph Fry & Son revoluciona la industraia del chocolate en Inglaterra al crear la primera barra de chocolate.
1868: The UK based company Cadbury's mass markets the first box of chocolate candies. (La empresa Cadbury en el Reino Unido comercializa la promera caja de dulces de chocolate.)
1879: Swiss chocolate maker Rodolphe Lindt invents the conching machine which gives chocolate a smooth texture. (El fabricante de chocolate suizo Rodolphe Lindt inventa la máquina de conchado que le da al chocolate una textura suave.)
1900: The Pennsylvania based Hershey's Chocolate Company sells its first chocolate bar. (Hershey's Chocolate Company, con sede en Pennsylvania, vende su primera barra de chocolate.)
1970: Carlos V, the popular Mexican chocolate bar named after the king of Spain at the time of the conquest, is released. Owned by Nestlé, the company makes chocolate sourced from Ghana and the Ivory Coast. (Se lanza al mercado la barra de chocolate mexicano Carlos V que lleva el nombre del rey de España en la época de la conquista de México. Propriedad de Nestlé, la empresa fabrica chocolate prodendente de Ghana y Costa de Marfíl.
Today - Hoy: Small companies including Cuna de Piedrea, Ki'Xocolatl and La Rifa make chocolate bars with cacao sourced directly from farmers in its land of origin. The chocolate is made in Mexico, leaving the money at origin. In Los Angeles, Car Artisan Chocolate, Bar au Chocolate and ChocoVivo use Mexican cacao. (Pequeñas empresas como Cuna de Piedra, Ki'Xocolatl and La Rifa hacen barras de chocolate con cacao prodedente directamente de los agricultores de su tierra de origen. En Los Ángeles, Car Artisan Chocolate, Bar au Chocolate y ChocoVivo usan cacao mexicano.
The Food of the Gods
Our word for chocolate may come from the Nahuatl xocolatl meaning “bitter water.” Theombra, cacao’s botanical name, is Greek for “food of the gods.” Once available only to priests and nobility, today chocolate is prized around the world for its taste and seductive effects.
The cacao tree is a small evergreen native to the tropical forests of Central and South America in a belt that straddles the equator. The tree grows up to 30 feet tall with pink or white flowers sprouting directly from its trunk and branches. When pollinated, the flowers give way to football-shaped fruit, each holding 30 to 50 almond-sized seeds, or “beans” surrounded by a sweet, white pulp. The seeds undergo a complex process of fermenting, drying, roasting and grinding in order to become chocolate.
After the first commercial shipment of cacao arrived in Spain in 1585, the bitter exotic was sweetened with sugar before makings its way through Europe. The froth, a symbol of the good life, remained an integral part of the drinking experience. The delicate art of sipping hot chocolate from elegant porcelain wares became another way for European aristocrats to display wealth and prestige.
When cacao trees were introduced from their native home to the West Indies, West Africa, and Southeast Asia during the colonial period, they were stripped of all religious associations and became a driving force in plantation economies. In just two and a half centuries, the drink that for centuries had been reserved for the upper classes, had become a global commodity. Today, chocolate sits at the center of the Fair Trade movement which has shed light on deforestation and child labor.
Thanks to small ben-to-bar companies making chocolate sourced from its land of origin, chocolate lovers may now indulge in the true taste of the original food of the gods.