There is nothing better than a good friend, except a good friend with a chocolate
Whoever said this knew chocolate very well. I remember, during my college, I would feel really sleepy during lectures. One day someone suggested that I should keep chocolate bars handy with me and whenever I feel sleepy, I should have some. As far as I remember, this trick worked for me and thus began my friendship with chocolates.
Chocolates have been a major reason why I am friends with a lot of people in my current life. During our on-the-job training at one of the largest campuses in India, we followed a chocolate ritual. Every evening we would all gather in the Employee recreation centre and have chocolates and share our day’s experiences. During my days in the hostel, chocolate was one reason why many people could knock on my door even in the middle of the night. They knew that I would definitely have a stock of chocolates enough for them to satiate their craving. There have been many deep-rooted discussions, confessions and soul talks over chocolates that have helped me mature as a person and given me memories for life.
We all know Chocolate comes from Cocoa beans. Cocoa has a long-standing history which is equally interesting. And there are other aspects of cocoa and chocolate that will amaze you equally. This is the story of ‘Cocoa’ inspired from my trip to Choco-Story, Paris.
History of Chocolate
- Cocoa was initially known to be used in Mayan territory (now Central American region) in 4000 BC. The Aztecs (ancient Mexican civilization) used cocoa beans as currency, for offerings to God and making drinks.
- The pre-Olmecs (a civilization even before the Aztecs) were the first ones to prepare and drink cocoa around 2000 b.c.
- Cocoa beans were so rare yet sought after that they were used as a currency –
1 tomato – 1 cocoa beans
1 rabbit – 10 cocoa beans
1 slave – 100 cocoa beans
- The Aztecs even coloured it red or mixed it with blood as an offering to the god.
- For many years the Spaniards who lived in Mexico guarded the recipe of cocoa drink and never let it out to the world. In 1528, a merchant named Cortez went back to Spain with a load of cocoa beans and the necessary equipment to make the drink.
- The noble women of New Mexico were so addicted to the chocolate drink that their servants served it to them even during the mass. The Bishop of San Cristobal was so fed-up and offended that he forbade it to be drunk during mass. But he paid the price as he was later poisoned.
- The first preparations of Cocoa drink involved obtaining cocoa paste using a matate (a desi sil-batta) and mixing it with water, ground corn, honey, and pepper.
- During the first centuries after its introduction to Europe, cocoa was used as a stimulant. In the 1800s it was used in medicines to treat a headache, chest colds and help improve digestion.
Some Myths About Chocolate Busted
Myth – Chocolate Increases Cholesterol
The composition of cocoa butter explains the positive effect of chocolate on cholesterol levels. It is composed of 62% saturated fatty acids (34% stearic acid and 28% palmitic acid) and 38% unsaturated fatty acids (35% oleic acid and 3% linoleic acid). Stearic acid rapidly de-saturates in organisms to produce oleic acid. Thus the final composition contains 69% oleic acid which is known to reduce cholesterol levels. So yes, chocolate actually reduces cholesterol levels.
Myth – Chocolate Is Forbidden For Diabetics
Chocolate is not forbidden for diabetics, but they have to take account of the quantity of glucids consumed. Diabetics should preferably choose a plain or sugar-free chocolate.
Myth – Chocolate Causes Cavities
Cocoa has three substances that have powerful anti-cavity properties –
- Tannins – inhibit development of microbes
- Flouride – reinforces enamel
- Phosphates – dampen the acids formed by metabolisation of sugar.
Myth – Chocolate Causes Acne Among Youth
Chocolate does not cause acne. Acne occurs due to excessive secretion of sebum in the skin. No medical study has shown any link between the secretion of sebum and chocolate.
So next time you are in a group that loves Chocolate, you can flaunt your knowledge about the origin and history of its ancestor (cocoa beans) and its lesser known impact on human body. Keeping having more Chocolates till then!
P.S. – The source of the above information is Choco Story Paris. If you are in Paris and wondering about interesting things to do you may plan a short trip to Choco Story Museum.