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Food and the Columbian Exchange: Chocolate

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Katie Starr

on 8 February 2016

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Transcript of Food and the Columbian Exchange: Chocolate

This dish is popular in Australia, where it is often served at children's birthday parties. The dish is basically a chocolate version of Rice Krispies served in small portions. They're presumably called crackles because of the crunchiness of the dish. How has something that was at one point only for the wealthy become so accessible?
Dish 1 - Chocolate Crackles
Dish 2 - Chocolate Chip Cookies
Dish 3 - The Chocolate Bar
Chocolate has undoubtedly made a huge impact on the world. It has created a huge industry that has spread to continents all over the world and has given birth to one of the most well known dishes: the chocolate bar.
Chocolate went from being a delicacy for the rich to becoming a regular snack/dessert. Large companies such as Hershey Nestle have made chocolate products easily accessible to the developed countries since the early 1900's.
Chocolate is the final product of the seed of the Theobrama cacao tree. It was cultivated in Central and South Americas and in Mexico for approximately three thousand years. The first recorded use dates back to around 1100 BC by the Olmec (the first major civilization in Mexico that lived in south-central Mexico). The famous beverage was made by most of the Mesoamerican peoples (Aztecs included). “Xocolatl” (the name that was given to it) is directly translated to the term “bitter water”. For the flavor to be developed the seed must be fermented, otherwise it is way too bitter. The word we use, "chocolate", comes from the original name given to it by the Aztecs, "xocolatl".
The cacao beans weren’t only for the beverages: the white pulp of the bean was also used as fermentable sugar for alcoholic beverages. The drink was often used during ceremonies as well.
When the Aztecs conquered a big part of the Mesoamerica around 1500, the cacao was deeply adapted into their culture. It was linked to the goddess of fertility named “Xochiquetzal”. So obviously, the “bitter water” was used as a gift or an offering. It wasn’t rare for the beans of the Theobrama tree to be used as a currency because of the luxury of the product explained by its absence in the dry Mexican highlands.
The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means "food of the gods."
The Spanish conquistador, Herman Cortes, was the first European man to try chocolate when Montezuma, the 9th leader of Tenochtitlan, introduced him to it in the 16th century. (This is around the time that the Europeans began exploring the "New World", which was mentioned in "The No-Nonsense Guide to Indigenous Peoples".)
One Spanish Jesuit described the chocolate beverage as a drink with an unpleasant taste that was greatly “respected by the Indians”.
European Adaption
When it was first shipped to Europe for profits, it was still consumed as a beverage. But it was slightly modified: the chilli was removed and canned sugar was added to it. Sometimes they put cinnamon or other spices.
The product could only be exported from the Americas once the Aztecs were conquered. Its reputation on the civilized continent was as high as in the “New World”. In about 100 years, it spread out over the whole continent (Europe). Since it was in high demand, Mesoamericans were enslaved in order to produce cacao. (The Guide goes into detail about the horrible conditions the Europeans would impose on the Indigenous Peoples.) But at the beginning, only the royalty could afford such an expensive drink. To make even more chocolate, the Spanish put Africans to work. The England was the only country where people could buy it without being part of the royal families.
Hard chocolate started being produced in the 18th century with the mills. When the Industrial Revolution started, the mills started producing even more of that merchandise. After the period’s cool-down, chocolate treats were sold by a lot of companies.
The dish's origin is the United States, where they started being made in the 1930's, The cookies are made of various ingredients such as sugar, flour, dough, and eggs.
By: Anatoly Syutkin & Rikil Desai
Edited by: Katie Starr
Extremely popular in many regions of the world, the chocolate bar is likely the best known chocolate dish. It is particularly popular in Europe, where countries such as Switzerland and Austria consume the most chocolate per person in the world. (How come chocolate has become so popular in Europe, even though it doesn't originate there?) The dish is more or less a bar made up of cocoa, sugar, and milk.
White Pulp
Food and the Columbian Exchange
1. cacao: raw chocolate
2. cocoa: processed chocolate
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