Chocolate, “The Food Of The Gods”

chocbean-barWhat do you give the person who has everything that penicillin won’t cure?

They have had it all, seen and experienced it all but maybe there is one thing they have not had in their mouth. A bite of the world’s most expensive bar of chocolate.

The history of chocolate begins in Mesoamerica. Fermented beverages made from chocolate date back to 1900 BC. The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the god of wisdom, and the seeds once had so much value that they were used as a form of currency.

The word “chocolate” comes from the Classical Nahuatl word chocolātl, and entered the English language from the Spanish language.

Christopher Columbus encountered the cacao bean on his fourth mission to the Americas on August 15, 1502, when he and his crew seized a large native canoe that proved to contain among other goods for trade cacao beans.

His son Ferdinand commented that the natives greatly valued the beans, which he termed almonds, “for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen.

His son Ferdinand commented that the natives greatly valued the beans, which he termed almonds, “for when they were brought on board ship together with their goods, I observed that when any of these almonds fell, they all stooped to pick it up, as if an eye had fallen.

After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, chocolate was imported to Europe. There, it quickly became a court favorite. It was still served as a beverage, but the Spanish added sugar or honey to counteract the natural bitterness.

Within about a hundred years, chocolate established a foothold throughout Europe.

This decadent bar of chocolate heaven began in a house without electricity in a forest in Ecuador, and then it became a mission.

chocTo’ak Chocolate (pronounced Toe-Ahk): Derived from a fusion of ancient dialects in Ecuador, the name To’ak means “earth” and “tree”, which together represent the true source of all chocolate.

We choose this name as it relates to the French term terroir, which describes how the taste of an artisanal product (wine, cheese, chocolate) expresses the specific soil and climate conditions of the land on which it was grown.

Roughly 95% of the world’s chocolate is made from mass- produced varieties of cacao beans, which are primarily grown in countries and continents far from cacao’s homeland. The remaining 5% is produced from rare and highly- coveted Fino y de Aroma cacao, most of which grows only in Ecuador—the native origin of cacao.

Even within Ecuador itself, flavor characteristics of single-origin cacao vary according to province, river valley, even hillside.

Much like pinot noir in the realm of grapes, Ecuadorian Nacional cacao is a finicky tree adapted to the specific soil and climate conditions of its home range, and its flavor profile is strongly governed by terroir.

In 1916, an outbreak of “Witch’s Broom” disease decimated cacao throughout Ecuador. In its wake came a wave of hybridization with foreign varieties of cacao, leaving only scattered remnants of heirloom cacao in remote pockets of land, with the most cherished among them residing in the famous Arriba cacao growing region.

jerry-tothBorn in Chicago, Jerry Toth graduated from Cornell University in 2000 and relocated to South America in 2001, where he worked various jobs ranging from waiting tables at a boutique Italian restaurant in Chile to working as a foreign correspondent of a radical activist magazine called Adbusters. In 2007, he co-founded a rainforest conservation foundation in Ecuador, called Third Millennium Alliance, where he continues to serve as director.

 

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