Chocolate | Luxury | 2nd December 2021 | Virtual Wire
Chocolate has become a go-to sweet for quite a few decades. It was a part of western celebrations which found its way to the Indian sweets.
No person as early as the twentieth century would have thought that there could be a wide range of chocolate barfis or a new chocolate flavour in kulfis and paan. And yet here we are, tailoring chocolate in our culture to fit all the food enthusiasts. Even if the chocolate has become a household delicacy with various companies churning out tons of variety of chocolate, the chocolatiers haven’t left innovating it so that it carries forwards its excitement and maintain its lane. Pastry chefs and chocolatiers like Amaury Guichon have shown the world the chocolate supremacy and how just various kinds of preparations of a single ingredient makes something surreal.
It has again kept the chocolate at a point from where it seems like it is ruling the confectionery kingdom. But to know where the chocolate is reaching now, we have to know where it came from. Life wouldn’t be this exciting for the chocolate connoisseurs as it is now if they had been born before the sixteenth century. Before the sixteenth century, chocolate was only available only in Mesoamerica, now extending from central Mexico to northern Costa Rica. The Mesoamericans used to prepare a cocoa drink by grounding the cocoa beans with cornmeal and adding chilli to it. They used to mix it till it becomes frothy.
The Mesoamericans used to believe that chocolate or to say cacao beans, was a divine food gifted to humans. Aztecs, a Mesoamerican culture that was famous for the land, agriculture, art and architecture; used cacao beans as currency. They used to drink the chocolate beverages at royal feasts and gave them to the soldiers who performed explicitly as a reward. Chocolate was used widely in the rituals as a part of their culture. An interaction between the Mesoamericans and Spanish traders took chocolate all the way to Spain in 1519. The initial thoughts of the people made everyone believe that chocolate is aphrodisiac. It was also widely used as a cure for cold and upset stomach until someone discovered that adding vanilla or sugar to chocolate turns it into a delicacy.
In 1828, Coenraad van Houten invented a coco press that would separate cocoa butter and coco powder which can use in a wide range of recipes and would be easier for people to consume. It was not very later on when a Swiss chocolatier named Daniel Peter invented milk chocolate by adding milk to the dark chocolate and creating a subtle version for people having a mild taste palette. It gave people an option to have chocolate with or without its rich, aromatic and bitter flavour over-powering its sweetness.
Till the 900s chocolate had reached most of the world and it was no less than a treat. It took the world by storm. Its wide range of utility made it into various cultures. Also, its ability to cater to the palette of a kid to an old person only increased its admirers who would swear by the decadent chocolate. As they say that every coin has two sides, the flip side of creating a delicacy so indulgent was the exploitation that its demand has brought in. Instead of companies importing cocoa from various parts of Africa, they started situating production units at the raw material sites.
The ever-growing ever-growing demand made the producers keen to extract more out of the regions which led to child labour and violation of human rights resulting in exploitation of all the resources required for its production. With the help of various activists and social entrepreneurs, there is a movement of change going on while the stated producers are creating extra awareness by labelling their products made from chocolate with slave free and ethical chocolate tags.