What’s the one thing you can not say “No”? Of course, it is chocolate. You are not alone though. In recent studies, a single person in America eats an average 9.5 lbs of the chocolate each year. That is the food we can not give up on but what do we know about chocolate?
I assume you all know what chocolate consists. If not, this part is for you. Chocolate is made from cacao beans that grow on cocoa trees. The cocoa trees mostly thrive in warm and humid tropical weather conditions. Cacao pods are the fruit of the cocoa trees, they shape like a football ball, and their colors vary from yellow, red, or green. Each pod contains an average of 40-50 cacao beans. According to chocolate producers, it takes a full year for one tree to produce enough seeds for ten standard chocolate bars. Based on this information if you think chocolate is pricey, it is not at all.
Let’s start with old fashion way of making chocolate; production begins with harvesting ripe cacao pods and cut them into a half. The cacao beans later get separated from the pods and placed in plastic bags for fermentation. The fermentation process usually takes six days; later seeds should put in the wooden box and covered with banana leaves to conserve rising temperature. During fermentation, beans color turns into brown from purple. After fermentation, beans get to dry in six days. Afterward, seeds get to roasting process and, ready to grind into cocoa powders to make chocolates. Nowadays, things are done differently due to advanced technology. Machines do each process in no time.
Long before Spaniards discovered the chocolate in the 16th century, the Aztecs and the Mayan people were grounding the cocoa beans and brewing it with chilies to use it during their rituals and sacrificial ceremonies. The cacao pods were so valuable to them, so they also used as a currency to exchange goods. The cacao pods at that time kept in safe vaults. After it introduced in Spain, sugar added to its flavor, and it became so popular in the Spanish court and eventually in whole Europe.
The production of chocolate is in mostly West African countries (originated in South America), and the consumption of course in European countries. In Switzerland, an average person eats 19.8 lbs chocolate each year, and they are the number one consumers among other countries in Europe. According to most scientists, a person who eats more than 22 lbs of chocolate each year might get sick or die. I have not heard any case to prove scientists’ theory, but in the upcoming year we should watch and see since the consumption of chocolate is multiplying in some countries.
Tip: If you plan to visit South or Latin America, there are some chocolate museums that you can visit. I went a few of them in Mexico and Peru to see how chocolate is made and enjoyed it very much. Simple you book a chocolate making class, and they show you how to crush roasted cacao beans and turn them into delicious chocolate. You can customize your chocolate in different flavors, colors, shapes. It is fun and informative. It also a great way to bring some gift for your loved ones.