Food of the Gods: A Potted History of Chocolate

Food of the Gods: A Potted History of Chocolate

Look, we know that chocolate isn’t the best thing for us but a little bit of what you fancy really does do you good. And besides, this particular delight has captivated taste buds for centuries.

Chocolate was discovered in Central America around 900 AD by the Mayan people, who called it “food of the Gods”. Cocoa was so valuable – it was believed to possess divine powers and was essential for birth, marriage and death rituals - that at one point 10 beans was worth the same as a rabbit or a lady to stay overnight. Beans were kept in locked boxes and used as currency.

However, back then it bore little resemblance to what we eat today. It was a liquid made from crushed cocoa beans, chili and water. No sugar. Really. NO SUGAR!

It was the Europeans who sweetened chocolate up, when they arrived in the Americas and found the local delicacy too bitter by half. After adding honey or sugar to the mix, the drink became popular in Europe but only among the rich.

It wasn’t until the 19th century that chocolate became a solid foodstuff.
The first chocolate bar is credited to Joseph Fry, who in 1847 made a chocolate paste by adding melted cacao butter back into Dutch cocoa – a powder chocolate which had been created some 20 years previously.
By 1868, boxes of chocolates were being sold in England by a little company known as Cadbury.
And yes, packaged chocolate is a guilty pleasure, but making your own treats is infinitely more satisfying.
For a straight up chocolate hit – why not try your hand at these truffles truffles by master chocolatier Paul A Young (if you’re ever in London’s Soho pop into his boutique and prepare to be dazzled).

But Brownies are a chocoholic’s dream and we have two stellar recipes for you to try. The first is Jamie Oliver’s brownie recipe – it’s so easy we’d go as far as to say fool proof. The second recipe is by Anna Jones and adds salted caramel into the mix.

Did someone say heaven on earth?


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