Once I asked a group of little kids -“Guys, where do chocolates come from” ? “The Grocery Shop”, quick came the reply. So I smiled and asked them again – “But where do they come from in the grocery shop” ? “From the Chocolate Factory” someone promptly answered.
“Fair enough”, I said scratching my head. The answers were right but not what I was looking for. I wanted to talk about the cocoa beans.
The most loved sweet of these times comes from cocoa beans that grow on trees. It was found hundreds of years ago in Central America (current day Venezuela). Cocoa trees can only grow in hot, rainy places near the Equator. The cocoa beans are found in large orange pumpkin like fruit. These raw beans are full of Vitamin C and magnesium. These cocoa beans are roasted and then ground for cocoa powder. The cocoa powder is very bitter.
In the earlier days when people were just beginning to make cocoa beans out of the cocoa trees, the beans were considered extremely precious – almost like money. So much so that some people even paid their taxes in cocoa beans.
When the cocoa beans were used as money only extraordinarily rich people could drink it. Later cocoa beans were taken to Europe by Spanish invaders. Soon enough it traveled to the rest of the Europe where they mixed the chocolate powder with milk and sugar, which is the same as the “hot chocolate” that we enjoy today.