Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni Luxury Magazine
03
FEB
2017

Published in:

Food And Wine

03 FEB 2017 Published in:
Food And Wine

CHOCOLATE: A TYPICALLY ITALIAN TREAT

Second only to rice, chocolate might well be the most famous and most widely consumed food in the world, with almost every person in the world having tried a piece of it at least once in their lives.

However, few people are aware that chocolate is also one of the oldest foodstuffs. Obviously, in the beginning, the chocolate bars we all know and love today did not exist; instead, cocoa powder was mixed with hot water - and the taste was bitter in the extreme. In fact, the word chocolate comes from the Aztec word “xocolati”, meaning “bitter water”.

The Maya civilization was the first to cultivate cocoa, the seeds of which were so precious that they were used as if they were currency. Cocoa also soon became a religious symbol. The Mayas called chocolate “kakaw uhanal”, “the food of the Gods”, because at the time it was consumed only by high social classes like sovereigns, noblemen, and warriors.

The first European to try cocoa was Christopher Columbus in 1502, during his fourth voyage to the Americas, where he visited Gunaja, along the coast of Honduras. Upon his return, he brought cocoa seeds with him and gave them to Ferdinand and Isabel of Spain, not realizing the importance of his discovery, maybe due to the bitter taste of the drink it was used to make.

Cocoa first came to Europe from America around the middle of the 16th century, and around 1600 it reached Italy, where many cities became symbols of this delicacy.

Going from North to South, in Turin the "Gianduiotti" soon started making chocolate, in Perugia the "Baci" and in Bologna the "Cremini", finally arriving in beautiful Sicily, where Modica is known as the birthplace of its famous rectangular chocolates, prepared using bitter cold paste.

As the great Leonardo Da Vinci would say, “Whoever sows virtue, harvests fame”, and in these and many other Italian cities, many chocolatiers past and present have managed to give rise to genuine luxury masterpieces.

One example is a famous company based in Pontedera, founded in 1990 and known for the absolute, uncompromising quality of its products. Not for nothing are they the most expensive chocolates in the world. Presented by the famous Oprah Winfrey, a pound of fine "Porcelana" can cost as much as 150 Euros. But what makes "Porcelana" so special? It is a kind of virtually extinct “relic”, with small plantations in Venezuela producing 3,000 pounds of seeds from which Amedei produces only 20,000 unique packages worldwide each year.

It is known as “Porcelana” due to the white colouration of the seed, which is used to create a very light, 70% “dark” chocolate. It is an extreme chocolate, with an out-of-the-ordinary power and at the same time an exasperating delicacy, with an acidity that brings freshness, leaving a completely clean mouth and a great desire to try again.

Chocolate has been widely consumed and enjoyed by various historical figures, the Queen Marie Antoinette would always travel accompanied by her personal chocolatier; Pope Pius V, although inflexible in certain respects, caused a stir in 1569 by allowing one cup of chocolate to be consumed every day during fasting periods, because it was a liquid; Carlo Goldoni praises it in various ways in his plays, and even the famous lover Giacomo Casanova used it for aphrodisiac effects.

So, let us not forget that the experts say that eating only a little piece of chocolate every day helps our good humour and even protects against many illnesses, and considering how delicious the taste is, it shouldn’t be too hard to comply!

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