Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Chocolate & Spain: a Passionate History

Chocolate con churros: Does it get any better than this? And, is there ever a history in Spain that does not involve passionate emotions? Maybe not. This fascinated me, because I do happen to adore chocolate.

Yeah, like who doesn't, but living in a country where you can buy bread rolls with chocolate filling as well as every other means of enjoying the stuff, including chocolate spa treatments! (The last is the hotel where Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony stayed when they came to Tenerife: wonder if she indulged?)

Anyway, the bit that caught my eye in the history was that,

"... a series of popes who were consulted during this ongoing debate agreed that since a person drank chocolate rather than eating it, chocolate was not a food, and therefore it did not break the fast."

On that point, hopeless incurable romantics familiar with the 1998 film, Ever After: A Cinderella Story, starring Drew Barrymore, will note that one of the many historical liberties taken in this romantic comedy is that, "Henry gives Marguerite chocolate at the tennis game [market: even goofs goof], Henry claims afterwards that, "The Spanish monks keep sending blocks of it."

But it didn't come solid in those days, "Although the Spanish had brought back cocoa from New Spain, it was not used in France until the 18th century (200 years later), and when it was, it was drunk with vanilla. Solid, edible chocolate like we have today has only been around for about one hundred years."

The upshot being that, if you drink your chocolate (still the most civilized way, in my mind), you need not be deprived of chocolate during Lent.

Well, not that I was worried or feeling guilty about that in the first place, but some people might be. Although I will venture that with Valentines Day coming up and it falling inside Lent this year and, even if your girlfriend / boyfriend / husband / wife / significant other is catholic, please still don't expect them to be satisfied with a packet of drinking chocolate or a tub of Nesquik™! :-)

Chocolate & Spain: a Passionate History

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