Stories of ancient cultures, religion, conquest, slavery, privilege, invention, medicine, culinary experimentation, science and more are all confected together in this flavorful, richly textured historical chronicle of chocolate.
Once confined to religious rituals and royalty, consumption of chocolate is now an $83 billion worldwide business, with the average European eating 24 pounds per year and the average U.S. citizen, 11 pounds per year. Frydenborg begins this fascinating history in Mesoamerica, where cocoa beans were used as currency; it was so valuable that its consumption was reserved for emperors. The conquistadors brought cocoa to Europe, where its popularity grew quickly among the privileged. With the decimation of indigenous populations thanks to European invaders, African slaves had to be imported for cocoa bean cultivation. The kind of chocolate we know today was developed through experimentation in the 19th century. We have the Swiss to thank for milk chocolate and the Dutch for the chocolate bar. The author lays it all out in a lively text punctuated by archival illustrations, photographs and sidebars, taking care to impress upon readers that even today, chocolate is more than just dessert. Its medicinal properties and applications have long been noted, as has its usefulness as a stimulant.
A deliciously informative, engaging and sweeping chronicle of one of the most popular treats in the world. (timeline, bibliography, websites) (Nonfiction. 12-18)