“Folks, I’m telling you, birthing is hard and dying is mean.
So get yourself some loving in between.”
— Langston Hughes
Almost everything in life seems to have two sides. Its ups and downs.
Love almost inevitably suffers loss. Salt finds its way into the sugar bowl. Men are from Mars and Women from Venus. The apple Eve gave Adam was the fruit that spoiled a Garden. Where can we turn to find a pleasure that never causes pain? Is there an earthly good that is always and constantly good?
Yes. It is Chocolate. It is fitting that it was first imbibed by Indian Kings.
When I was a little boy I ate the chocolate of my American youth. The magic words, (prayer words!), were Hershey’s, Nestlé, Mars, Heath, Butterfinger, Kit Kat, Almond Joy and Baby Ruth.
What child ever found the sting of rebuke so often suffered by children in chocolate? None! We all loved it. And the child in us still does and always will.
If sex, love and music were all one food it would be chocolate!
When asked to describe the flavor of chocolate even the most literate individuals find themselves adrift in the non-alphabetically constrained language of groans, shudders, moans and sighs.
The cacao tree is a native of Central and South America. Today, it is cultivated around the equator, and can be found in the Caribbean, Africa, South-East Asia, and even in the South Pacific Islands of Samoa and New Guinea. The Latin classification name for chocolate is Cacao theobroma which means: Cacao, food of the gods. Naturally helpful in according it god-like power is that it was also considered an aphrodisiac by the Maya and and Aztecs. This legend did not evaporate as it crossed the Atlantic for it eventual cultivation and reinvention in Europe.
Christopher Columbus was the first European to come in contact with cacao. On August 15, 1502, on his fourth and last voyage to the Americas. The man had a knack for finding the goods, intentional or otherwise!
The chocolate of these Mesoamerican civilizations was consumed as a bitter-tasting drink made of ground cacao beans mixed with a variety of local ingredients that could have included chilies, allspice berries, annatto seeds and vanilla. An officer serving with Cortez observed the Aztec ruler Montezuma, drinking fifty flagons of chocolate a day presumably as a prelude to visiting with one of his many wives.
Chocolate was more of an energy provider, (it contains some caffeine) than the rich confection it is now renowned for at this stage of it history.
When the Spanish first brought chocolate back to Europe, it was still being served as a beverage, but of all the foods that moved from West to East it was chocolate that went through the most serious transformation.
By the 17th century European nobility began to mimic the Indian kings and drank chocolate with great ceremony and fuss. The Spanish soon found competition from the French, English, and Dutch who were cultivating cacao in their colonies in the Caribbean, and later, elsewhere in the world. As the cost of producing chocolate began to drop it began to become a confection for the masses as well.
In World War II the American government contracted Hershey Chocolate to provide thier candy bars for the troops in battle. Hershey chocolate bars were being produced at the rate of 500,000 a day!
Even so… when we wish to send someone a message of love, all you need is chocolate.