Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Chocoholics anonymous!

Hello everyone, my name’s Jono and I’m a Chocoholic. It’s okay though, I’ve come to terms with my problem and understand that there are many others like me. If you’re one of these people, maybe I can give you more information regarding your condition. In no way will it help you kick your habit, though, as the power of chocolate is too strong! Scientists have found that humans were already hooked on the stuff over 2,500 years ago.

The Aztecs and Mayans were the first to harvest cacao beans, which we use to make chocolate. They used them to make a foamy drink called xocoatl, from which the word chocolate was derived. It comes from two ancient Mexican Indian words, xoco (pronounced choco) meaning foam and atl meaning water.

The drinking of xocoatl was thought to give power and wisdom to those who drank it. Because of this, it was only given to tribal chieftains. They used to drink it from solid gold goblets and even used the beans as currency. To them, money really did grow on trees. The botanical name for the cacao bean is Theobrama Cacao, which literally means food of the gods!

For many years after its introduction to Europe in the 16th Century, drinking chocolate was still a very bitter and grainy drink, probably not so different from the Aztec original. Later, two clever Swiss chemists named Rodolphe Lindt and Henri Nestlé developed a grinding method called conching. This smooth result enhanced both the texture and flavour of chocolate, making it ever more popular. These men’s names are, of course, now synonymous with chocolate to this very day. 

In 1657 the first Chocolate House (like a Coffee House, rather than a house made of chocolate) was opened in London. The making of chocolate by conching was a very costly procedure, so the drink was only for Society’s élite. So, again, for many years it remained a mysterious product for the common man. This is not, of course, the case nowadays my fellow Chocoholics! By 2000, the annual world consumption was an average of 600,000 tons of the glorious stuff and still rising! Let’s take comfort knowing that we’re not alone and it’s okay to indulge in one of life’s finest and well-established luxuries.

It’s been scientifically proven that the consumption of chocolate is not bad for us at all. Researchers have found that people who eat chocolate three times a month can add one year to their lives! This is due to the high amount of anti-oxidants it contains. There are more anti-oxidants in high quality Swiss chocolate than a portion of broccoli! Imagine if you eat it three times a day! Scientists have also found that the consumption of chocolate stimulates a mild ‘marijuana-like’ effect (whatever that’s like). It is however, a harmless euphoria that helps to reduce stress! Perfect for a hard-working yachtie.

Here’s a recipe for a drink to give to your guests after a hard day playing on the toys. It’s a spicy, hot chocolate drink, which I think the Aztecs and Mayans would have approved of. I normally drink it after going to a CA meeting to cheer me up! Enjoy!

Please don’t feel guilty drinking this. Enjoy the feeling – it may
even bring you health and wisdom while doing so.
Images courtesy of

Chocolate power
Serves 4

1/2 litre full-fat milk
2 bars (16 oz or 226 g) good-quality
chocolate (minimum 60% cocoa solids)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 vanilla pod
1 fresh bird’s-eye chilli (split and seeds removed)
1 whole nutmeg.

> Place the cinnamon sticks, vanilla pod and chilli
in a thick-bottomed pan;
> Add the milk and slowly bring to the boil;
> Simmer for five minutes;
> Leave to stand for half an hour to let the flavours
of the spices infuse with the milk;
> Remove the spices (don’t throw them away, they
can be rinsed and dried for further use);
> Put a small cup of the milk aside for a frothy topping
as you would for a cappuccino;
> Bring the flavoured milk back to a simmer and add
the chocolate in pieces;
> Stir with a wooden spoon until it has dissolved completely;
> Pour into four good-sized mugs;
> Add a frothy topping made with the set aside milk;
> Add some freshly grated nutmeg;
>For pure indulgence you can add a shot of whiskey, rum,
brandy or Amaretto.

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