Last Sunday September 13th was International Chocolate Day. Not being ones to miss out on talking about one of our favourte things, we thought we’d have a belated celebration of our own today! The Latin name for chocolate, Theobroma cacao, translates as of food of the gods – Theo (god) broma (food). We totally agree with that!
Here’s a few more facts we’ve managed to drum up about the black stuff for your delectation!
Firstly, International Chocolate Day, the annual day of celebration for all things chocolate, is a Stateside invention. It always occurs on 13th September – in honour of the birthday of Milton Hershey – founder of America’s favourite Hershey Chocolate Company.
Chocolate begins life as a bean in a pod on the Cocoa Tree. This tree is an evergreen found in Central and South America where tropical climates exist.
Cacao pods are large. There can be as many as 60 cocoa seeds (beans) in a ripe pod, which could weight over 600g.
The beans are the precious source of chocolate, containing up to 50% cocoa butter, which is essential for really good chocolate.
The best quality chocolates for cooking have at least 70% cocoa solids from the cocoa butter – giving them an intense chocolate flavour. Some makers create chocolate with up to 90% cocoa solids – this is very intensely flavoured, not sweet and for the discerning palate.
High cocoa solid content in chocolate is vital for cooking.
The ancient Maya race believed chocolate was discovered by mountain gods.
It is probably down to the Maya and Aztec races that we use the word chocolate today, derived from ‘chocolatl’ which is a combination of Maya and Aztec tongue, meaning ‘hot water’. Both races drank ground cacao dissolved in hot water which is believed to be the original hot chocolate drink.
Chocolate was introduced to Europe through explorers like Columbus and Hernando Cortes, who conquered the Aztecs and took their chocolate recipe to Spain.
Chocolate contains caffeine and theobromine, both believed to be aphrodisiacs. No wonder good chocolate is very sexy!
Eating chocolate is a sensual experience. Which is why we always reach for it when we need to be comforted in some way. It creates a feelgood factor and is often the way to a girl’s (and sometimes a man’s) heart!
Where to buy good chocolate in the GFI network:
- Chez Emily, Co. Dublin
- Lorge Chocolatier, Kenmare Co. Kerry
- Wilde Irish Chocolates, Co.Clare
- Choc O’Neill, Co. Longford
- The Chocolate Garden of Ireland
- Triple Chocolate Guinness Brownies,
- Faithlegg House Hotel’s Chocolate Chip Cookies,
- Renvyle’s Chocolate Steamed Pudding
- and others listed here.