Thoughts on The True History of Chocolate

As mentioned in Reading Non-Fiction, my goal is to share what motivated me to read the books and some thoughts that came from said reading.

I do not remember my first taste of dark chocolate, but somewhere between making brownies with my mom in my tweens and my grade 10 art project on food, I did and there was no turning back. “White chocolate” and milk chocolate have been lost on me since. David knows my chocolate history, so for Christmas 2011, he gifted me a class at Xoxolat with his sister-in-law.

Hodie, the owner, hosts hour-long classes focused on “learning the many facets of chocolate, from the bean to the bar, and tasting samples of different beans, origins, manufacturers, and percentages of cocoa”. Seriously, the best class ever! Afterwards, we had so many questions that we spent another hour chatting with Hodie. She sent us home with a reading list and the invite to email her with any future questions.

One of her recommended books was The True History of Chocolate.

THoCI loved this book when I read it because it presented the whole history of chocolate from its earliest known origins to the 20th Century. Now hear me on this, I am not a history buff. I barely remember anything about Canada’s history from elementary school, not to mention the world at large. (That is a sad thing, but now I look forward to relearning it all when my girls study it in a few years.) So, I was surprised to find the history part captivating me. Must have been the subject matter! The book filled in the gaps that I had questions about after my Chocolate 101 class.

The biggest discovery for me was that drinking chocolate was the original form of consumption. With chocolate bars getting all the attention these days, I was curious if anyone was going back to the beginning, so to speak. I decided that I wanted to focus my attention furthermore on drinking chocolate (not exclusively, but for fun).

Wonder of wonders, Vancouver has a cute little chocolaterie which serves drinking chocolate. This discovery has resulted in regular visits there with my daughter. We call it “Anne’s” and are enjoying developing a relationship with the owner. As busy as she is, she always makes time to chat.

Last year, in trying to help a friend find things to do in Vancouver with his girlfriend, I stumbled upon The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival. For whatever reason, I did not partake in any festivities. This year I was determined to get involved. Not surprisingly, Anne is participating. She has four flavours to choose from (for the festival) and we wandered over to try her “Praliné Chocolat”. It was more drinking chocolate than hot chocolate, rich and smooth. Too much for my little girl, but a nice treat to share.

Last night, David and I went skating at Robson Square and followed it up with hot chocolate at Diva. There are two flavours to choose from, so we each ordered one and shared. Both were well balanced, not too sweet, and interesting. I am hoping to visit 49th Parallel this week or next to get in a few more tastes before the festival ends.

Many thanks to Hodie for her enthusiasm for chocolate, her passion to share it with others, and her recommendation of the book. I share the same enthusiasm and passion and hope you will give the book a read. It might just inspire you to find your own “Anne’s” or at least try something different than a box of chocolates this Valentine’s Day.

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