Chocolate

“I LOVE chocolate!”

I hear it said so often. It’s rare to find a person who doesn’t love chocolate, but do you really know about chocolate and where it comes from?

Most of us see it at this ready-to-eat stage and that is really all that matters. But at the Farmers’ Market in Olympia, Washington, I had a quick lesson in the story of chocolate.

 

Photo from Wikipedia

This is how the cocoa beans look as they grow on the trees – not on branches, but on the trunk. They have to be cut away carefully so as not to damage the place where the stem joins the tree lest it spoil the next year’s growth.

 

Photo from Wikipedia

At a booth in the Farmers’ Market where they sell chocolate, these cocoa pods were on display. The pods which contain many cocoa beans, come in several different colours, depending on variety and ripeness.

Taken at the Olympia Farmer’s Market

The pods are cut open and the leathery shell is discarded. The 30 to 50 cocoa beans inside are placed on a grate or in a bin for several days while the pulp between the seeds ferments and drains away. Then the beans are spread out to dry. At this stage, they may even be sprinkled with red clay mixed with water  for polish and to enhance the colour and discourage mildew.

It takes about 400 beans to make a pound of chocolate. Below are cocoa beans with the husks still on. The husks will be removed, either by machine or by dancing on them in a way that is reminiscent of stomping on grapes to make wine.

Photo taken by Irene Scott for AusAID. (13/2529)

Why does chocolate make us happy?

It’s said to be a good antioxidant and beneficial to cardiovascular health. But I don’t think that’s why almost everyone loves chocolate. Chocolate contains tryptophan which releases serotonin, which in turn triggers the parts of the brain  that tell us we’re happy. (I’ve over-simplified. When I get my degree in organic chemistry, I’ll explain it more thoroughly.)

Mainly I like chocolate because it’s just plain good!

Forget about the calories. 

Happy Easter!

 

43 thoughts on “Chocolate

  1. Oh dear, I am a person who doesn’t like chocolate. Maybe that has to do with my childhood. I had an uncle who run a wholesale for chocolate and me sister and I got masses of chocolate. In a way chocolate was forced on us.
    Wishing you happy holidays
    Klausbernd 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Chocolate is naturally bitter. I suspect tryptophan is the main reason we like it. I don’t like dark chocolate because of its bitterness, and that’s the one that’s supposed to be good for you. I do love white chocolate which technically isn’t chocolate at all. Go figure. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Interesting. Thank you for sharing this, Anneli. You’d think with all those beans it takes for one pound of chocolate, it would be as expensive as gold! The only sweets I like to eat are chocolate, chocolate and chocolate. Happy Easter to you, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the informative detail about the birthplace of chocolate. Very interesting! I am a bittersweet dark chocolate fan. Milk chocolate does nothing at all for me, as I find it way too sweet! White chocolate is good in some applications, but it is not my first choice either. Happy Easter to you, “the Captain” and your sweet pups. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Interesting and informative. I love chocolate even better now after you have analyzed it. Thanks.
    By the way, it’s good to be back home after a month at Palm Springs. Chocolates wasn’t my favourite there. Instead oranges became my delicious favourite. Happy Easter.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Excellent post, Anneli. I have see cocao pods growing in Belize and Trinidad on different occasions, and it is always so interesting. Sometimes they are yellow (ripe) and sometimes red (unripe). You did a great job here of describing the long and involved process of what it takes to process chocolate, it is amazing. And I laughed out loud at the really funny cartoon. Happy Easter! (PS – I love chocolate)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like chocolate a lot, but since I only like the expensive (good) chocolate, I don’t get to eat as much of it as I would like – and maybe that’s a good thing. I’ve never seen the cocoa pods growing but would love to have seen this. The cartoon is one that someone sent me several years ago but I still have to laugh at it every time I see it. I’d like to give credit for the artist, but I don’t know who it is. What a great sense of humour he/she has. Happy Easter, Jet.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Ich hoffe, du hattest ein schönes Osterfest, liebe Anneli.
    Ich liebe auch Schokolade. Als Kind mochte ich andere Süßigkeiten viel lieber als Schokolade, aber mittlerweile mag ich sie sehr gerne. 🙂 Zusätzlich zu den anderen Süßigkeiten. 😉

    Liebe Grüße,
    Martina

    Liked by 1 person

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