Evolution of Chocolate — A Short But Sweet History of Chocolate & Their Origin
A flavor which drives the world crazy, chocolate hails the land of Mesoamerica as the region of its origin. Since time immemorial, chocolate has been held in high regard by humans. The last Mesoamerican civilization of Aztecs loved it to such an extent that Cacao seeds were used as currency! Since then, people around the world have turned to chocolate to cure sickness, appease gods, show love, buy rabbits, fete holidays, survive fasts, ward off scorpions and sustain warriors.And all the while, the number of chocolate lovers, or Chocolateers, has only grown with the passage of time. Chocolate enthusiasts have dedicated novels, movies and entire festivals to the delicious flavor of chocolate. The chocolate craze can be estimated from the example of a town in Central Sulawesi in Indonesia, where cacao farmers have built a statue that is nearly 20 feet high, simply a pair of hands holding a cacao pod.
Despite not being the place of origin, Africa has overtaken the Americas as the largest producer of chocolate, responsible for around two thirds of the world’s production. The chocolate which ends up in a shiny and expensive package often begins its life inside a fruit, called a pod, on a tree in the tropics, primarily in remote areas of West Africa, Southeast Asia and Central and South America. The process includes separating the seeds from the pod and fermenting them. After being dried, they are shipped to factories where they are processed into a paste known as chocolate liquor. After more pressing, rolling, mixing with sugar and other ingredients, and heating and cooling, the final product yields delicious chocolate.
The making of chocolate is in itself a vast industry, employing around 40 to 50 million people, who collectively produce 3.8 million tons of cocoa beans per year. The astonishing fact is that despite its extremely large size, it is still growing. The global production is climbing at 2% per year and still it has not been able to catch up with the demand, which has steadily climbed at 3% per year. In India alone, the sale crossed 10,000 crore in 2014. Adjusting to the changing demands of the country, the manufacturing and delivery of packaged chocolates has undergone a vast change. An example is Nita Mehta, a celebrity chef who manufactures her own brand of chocolate and which can be easily bought online through websites like FoodFeasta.com.
Nearly everyone has been scolded by their mother during childhood for eating too much chocolate and yet chocolate has been used throughout history to treat a variety of ailments, most commonly to help thin patients gain weight, to stimulate the nervous systems of feeble people, to calm those who are hyperactive, or to improve digestion and kidney function. A modern proof of the positive effect of chocolate on health can be seen through the example of the Kuna Indians of the Panama, who drink five or more cups of chocolate each day. Studies have shown considerably low incidence of heart disease and cancer. With such a lot of benefits of chocolate added to its magical flavor, it does not remain a mystery as to why so many people are crazy for chocolate.
Originally published at iloveindianfoods.blogspot.in on July 9, 2015.