Aztec money. For the ancient Aztec population, cocoa beans functioned as currency: one bean would buy you a tomato, three would buy an avocado, while with ten you could buy a rabbit. For a decent turkey, however, you needed a hundred.
Bath. Chocolate, besides being eaten, can, at the most fashionable spas, even be bathed in. Jumping into a tub full of liquid chocolate helps combat stress and water retention.
Columbus. The year 1502: Christopher Columbus disembarked on the Island of Guanaja, in Honduras, and received a nice cup of cocoa as a welcome gift, when the food was still unknown in Europe.
Dark chocolate. Unlike white and milk chocolate, dark chocolate is the most bitter tasting of all: it’s sold according to the amount of cocoa it contains. Recently, bars of chocolate with cocoa content of over 75% have begun to appear in stores.
Easter eggs. Large, small, hand-made or mass-produced: Easter eggs are made out of chocolate, and are hollow, apart from a surprise within – usually a small toy - for the kids. They’re broken open at the dinner table after Easter lunch.
Films. Chocolate has played a starring role in several famous fims. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, starring Johnny Depp, is a 2005 remake of the 1971 version called Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. But the most famous -- again with Johnny Depp -- remains the 2000 film Chocolat, with Juliet Binoche. Taken from the worldwide bestselling novel by Johanne Harris.
Gods. The most ancient divinity dedicated to chocolate is El Chuah, the God of merchants and cocoa. He was venerated by the Mayans, a civilization which begun to cultivate cocoa around the year 400 BC. The Aztecs, on the other hand, associated chocolate with Xochiquetzal, the Goddess of fertility.
Hot. Consumed in its liquid state, hot chocolate is a common winter drink. It’s made with milk, cocoa and sugar, and is great when covered in whipped cream. Mind those calories, though.
Ice cream. Kids go crazy for it in the form of ice cream. Here’s a good trick: cover the ice cream cone with melted chocolate, and wait a few seconds. It’ll harden into a brittle covering, just waiting to be cracked open.
Joseph Fry. This was the man who, in England, in 1847, invented the chocolate bar. These became even more famous a few years later thanks to another Englishman, John Cadbury, the founder of the famous company which takes his name.
Kylie Minogue. This beautiful Australian singer even dedicated an entire song to chocolate, which features a chorus that goes: «Melt me slowly down like chocolate».
Liquor. Despite the name, cocoa liquor is not alcoholic. Rather, this is pure liquid chocolate, produced from cocoa beans.
Milk. Milk chocolate is the world’s sweetest kind of chocolate. The most famous comes from Switzerland, where each citizen consumes an average of 9.4kg of the stuff every year.
New York. In 1925, the Cocoa Exchange was set up here: this is the market where deals in cocoa are done, and where its price is set.
Oceania. Few people know about the high levels of chocolate production of the islands of Oceania. Cocoa beans are grown in Indonesia (on the islands of Java and Sumatra), which today is the world’s third largest chocolate producer, after the Ivory Coast and Ghana.
Psycho. In Alfred Hitchcock’s film, chocolate was used to represent blood in the famous shower scene.
Quotes. «Momma always said life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.» - Forrest Gump. «Ideas should be clear, chocolate should be thick.» - Spanish proverb.
Restores energy. Due to its high carbohydrate content, chocolate is used by sportsmen and women in order to restore their energy levels after a grueling match. Napoleon did this too, after his military campaigns.
Sacher. In Austria, in 1832, Franz Sacher created the world’s most famous chocolate cake: the Sachertorte.
Theobroma cacao. Theobroma cacao is the scientific name of the cocoa tree: it means ‘the food of Gods’ in Greek.
US Army. Since the Second World War, a bar of chocolate has been an important part of American soldier’s ‘K-rations’. Special kinds of chocolate able to resist high temperatures have even been developed specifically for them.
Van Houten. In Amsterdam, in 1828, Coenraad Van Houten created the first chocolate powder. It was he who first managed to separate cocoa butter from the mass of material which results from the first stage of processing cocoa beans.
Willy Wonka. The legendary proprietor of the Chocolate Factory, which was first a book and then a film (with Johnny Depp playing the part of Wonka in the most recent version). As a special prize to the children who found winning tickets in their chocolate bars, this eccentric character opens the doors of his incredible factory the kids and their families for one unforgettable day.
Xocolatl. This is one of the first cocoa-based drinks to be consumed in the Americas, flavored with chili peppers, pepper and vanilla. Literally, its name means ‘bitter water’.
Yerba mate. This drink, similar to tea and popular in Mexico, is often accompanied by chocolate, as both have stimulating properties, and are both examples of the few natural foods which contain caffeine.
Zero calories. Zero-calorie chocolate still does not exist, but in 2009 aHarvard scientist invented a chocolate spray that, when inhaled, produces the sensation that you’ve actually eaten a bar, whilst combating feelings of hunger, thereby stopping you from gaining weight.
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