Monday, February 1, 2016

##InkRipples and Chocolate!

Quote for the week: Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you. Frank Lloyd Wright.


#InkRipples is a monthly meme created by Kai Strand, Mary Waibel, and Katie L. Carroll. They post on the first Monday of every month with a new topic. They're all authors, but you don’t have to be to participate.

 


 

The idea of #InkRipples is to toss a word, idea, image, whatever into the inkwell and see what kind of ripples it makes. They provide the topics and will be blogging about them on the first Monday of the month. You can spread your own ripples by blogging about the topic any day of the month that fits your schedule, just be sure to include links back to Katie, Kai, and Mary.

 
Or you can simply share your thoughts on social media using the hashtag #InkRipples. You might simply comment on one of their posts to play along. Tag them and they’re always happy to share your posts and thoughts to keep those ripples going and intersecting.

There is no wrong way to do #InkRipples (with the exception of following basic human decency!). It’s about having a conversation, sharing ideas, and connecting. So if this sounds at all interesting, please do participate in whatever way you can. And feel free to use any of the meme’s images (created by the wonderful Mary Waibel).

The topics for 2016 are:

 

February – Chocolate

March – Feminism
April – Poetry
May – Memories
June – Movies
July – Inspiration
August – Guilty Pleasures
September – Banned Books
October – Masks
November – Heritage
December – Cookies
 
 
 
Chocolate! What can I say? Dark Chocolate Kisses. Chocolate Easter Bunnies. Chocolate Pie. Chocolate Cake. You name it. I like it. I was curious as to where, when, and how chocolate came to be. So I did a bit of research and found this great site.
 
 
Year Published 2014
Publisher A+E Networks
 
The Sweet History of Chocolate by Christopher Klein 
 
Chocolate may be the “food of the gods,” but for most of its 4,000-year history, it was actually consumed as a bitter beverage rather than as a sweet edible treat. Anthropologists have found evidence that chocolate was produced by pre-Olmec cultures living in present-day Mexico as early as 1900 B.C. The ancient Mesoamericans who first cultivated cacao plants found in the tropical rainforests of Central America fermented, roasted and ground the cacao beans into a paste that they mixed with water, vanilla, honey, chili peppers and other spices to brew a frothy chocolate drink.
Olmec, Mayan and Aztec civilizations found chocolate to be an invigorating drink, mood enhancer and aphrodisiac, which led them to believe that it possessed mystical and spiritual qualities. The Mayans worshipped a god of cacao and reserved chocolate for rulers, warriors, priests and nobles at sacred ceremonies.


When the Aztecs began to dominate Mesoamerica in the 14th century, they craved cacao beans, which could not be grown in the dry highlands of central Mexico that were the heart of their civilization. The Aztecs traded with the Mayans for cocao beans, which were so coveted that they were used as currency. (In the 1500s, Aztecs could purchase a turkey hen for 100 beans.) By some accounts, the 16th-century Aztec emperor Montezuma drank three gallons of chocolate a day to increase his libido.


In the 1500s, Spanish conquistadors such as Hernán Cortés who sought gold and silver in Mexico returned instead with chocolate. Although the Spanish sweetened the bitter drink with cane sugar and cinnamon, one thing remained unchanged: chocolate was still a delectable symbol of luxury, wealth and power. Chocolate was sipped by royal lips, and only Spanish elites could afford the expensive import.


Spain managed to keep chocolate a savory secret for nearly a century, but when the daughter of Spanish King Philip III wed French King Louis XIII in 1615, she brought her love of chocolate with her to France. The popularity of chocolate quickly spread to other European courts, and aristocrats consumed it as a magic elixir with salubrious benefits. To slake their growing thirst for chocolate, European powers established colonial plantations in equatorial regions around the world to grow cacao and sugar. When diseases brought by the European explorers depleted the native Mesoamerican labor pool, African slaves were imported to work on the plantations and maintain the production of chocolate.


Chocolate remained an aristocratic nectar until Dutch chemist Coenraad Johannes van Houten in 1828 invented the cocoa press, which revolutionized chocolate-making. The cocoa press could squeeze the fatty cocoa butter from roasted cacao beans, leaving behind a dry cake that could be pulverized into a fine powder that could be mixed with liquids and other ingredients, poured into molds and solidified into edible, easily digestible chocolate. The innovation by van Houten ushered in the modern era of chocolate by enabling it to be used as a confectionary ingredient, and the resulting drop in production costs made chocolate affordable to the masses.


In 1847, British chocolate company J.S. Fry & Sons created the first solid edible chocolate bar from cocoa butter, cocoa powder and sugar. Rodolphe Lindt’s 1879 invention of the conching machine, which produced chocolate with a velvety texture and superior taste, and other advances allowed for the mass production of smooth, creamy milk chocolate on factory assembly lines. You don’t need to have a sweet tooth to recognize the familiar names of the family-owned companies such as Cadbury, Mars and Hershey that ushered in a chocolate boom in the late 1800s and early 1900s that has yet to abate. Today, the average American consumes 12 lbs. of chocolate each year, and more than $75 billion worldwide is spent on chocolate annually.

12 lbs. of chocolate a year? That sounds about right. Happy eating, umm, happy reading.
 
 

25 comments:

  1. Chocolate sure goes back a long way, I used to eat a ton, due to that my body says no way when I try to eat it now lol

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    1. I try to control how much chocolate I eat, Pat, but sometimes the chocolate wins.

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  2. I love all forms of chocolate too. Milk, dark, and white. Yum! Thanks for the history. I had no idea chocolate had such a colorful and interesting history.

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  3. I love all forms of chocolate too. Milk, dark, and white. Yum! Thanks for the history. I had no idea chocolate had such a colorful and interesting history.

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    1. You're welcome, Chrys. I thought it was interesting. Next time we eat chocolate, we'll know all about it. :)

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  4. Can't imagine drinking it in its bitter form.
    I think someone else is enjoying some of my yearly quota.

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    1. Yeah, that does sound yucky, Alex. I bet they appreciate your quota too. :)

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  5. Very cool historical piece. I'd never thought much about the history of chocolate. I'll keep my sweet, though. :)

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    1. Since I enjoy historical facts, Katie, I just had to learn about chocolate.

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  6. I love this post and I love chocolate also.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Ah, another chocolate lover. I'm with you, Yvonne.

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  7. I did not know the chocolate. My husband visited Hershey, Pennsylvania once and he said he's never had better chocolate. It's so fresh there!

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    1. I bet visiting the Hershey plant was a fascinating experience, Stephanie. Imagine, all that chocolate. :)

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    2. Oops! Need to edit this. Visiting Hershey, the town. My brain's on holiday this morning. :)

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  8. I had no idea chocolate was so old! Crazy. Thanks for sharing the history.

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  9. Funny coincidence - I was literally taking a bite of chocolate cake when I clicked to your blog. Yes, chocolate's the awesomest! I had no idea the Spanish (and Latin Americans) were to thank for that bit of heaven. Yummy!! Have a wonderful week, Beverly! :)

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    1. Ah, it must have been fate, Lexa. Here's to a wonderful week for you, as well, and lots of chocolate cake. :)

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  10. I love this idea. I may just have to add this to my Mondays! Thanks for history on chocolate. Yumm.

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    1. It is a fun meme, Lee, and you can do it anytime.

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    2. We'd love for you to join in, Lee. Like Bev said, you can post on any day. Just be sure to tag Kai, Katie, and/or me and use the #InkRipples tag in your social media.

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  11. What a fascinating history. Thanks for sharing all that, Bev. I'm so glad I live in a time when chocolate is available to the masses and not just the aristocracy :-)

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    1. You're welcome, Mary. I enjoy history and was curious. Me, too. :)

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  12. I had no idea about the history of chocolate. Crazy to think it has only been in bar form for a little over 100 years. I can't imagine living in a time when I couldn't get my daily piece of chocolate. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. I didn't know either, Jess, but it's fun to learn these things, I think. Life without chocolate would be sad. :)

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