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Friday, November 11, 2005

The superiority of chocolate

Chocolate con churros

There is, I think, no question that chocolate is superior and Thomas Jefferson seems to have understood something of the exalted position that chocolate holds in Spanish culture. Plenty of other cultures certainly love chocolate too now, but I don't think any other appreciates it with quite the same sense of exoticism and sensuality.

The superiority of chocolate

And, I had to laugh at my online horoscope this morning, which said:

"Treat yourself well today. Try to up your chocolate intake -- and sneak in a nap."

Whoever writes these things, obviously, does NOT live in Spain. This would not be considered as special treatment; this is a way of life and it certainly has it's benefits.

Aztec mythology (it was the Aztecs who began the cultivation of cocoa), even links the product to God, who, they believed, sent the seeds to earth to "sweeten" man's existence. The first consignment of chocolate arrived in Spain in 1527 and, from there, soon spread (chocolate spread - pun intended) throughout the whole of Europe.

Flicking channels recently, I caught the end of an item on tvCanaria - in their daily magazine program, Canarias Directo, which is available, not just locally but on the International and Digital channels too - about a restaurant somewhere here on the islands serving chocolate and nothing but chocolate in masses of different ways.

I wish I'd caught the beginning of it to tell you where it is, because, whilst most chocolate bars leave me unexcited these days (simply because there are so many better ways to get one's *fix*), this report and all the samples they showed made me positively drool. And, yes, they were promoting chocolate's healthy qualities!

Chocolate contains antioxidants and you wouldn't want to go rusty, would you? :)

This is, after all, a country where you can (I'm not saying you should) buy sliced bread with chocolate chips in, breakfast rolls and pastries with gooey chocolate in the middle, as well as chocolates and bars in all the more familiar forms, plus the traditional semi-liquid Chocolate a la Taza for the afternoon ritual - and into which to dip your churros.

If you visit Spain or the Canary Islands, you will find most of these things in the supermarket and I urge you to try the unfamiliar ones, even if it is just once.

The funny thing is, despite the national love of chocolate and sweet things (take condensed milk, for instance), Spanish chocolate, cakes & deserts are never nauseatingly over-sweet or sickly that you do generally find, at least in the UK.

History of chocolate in Spain

Photo: Toni Kaarttinen from Espoo, Finland [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons