Varieties of Cacao
European Drinking Chocolate
Chocolate In Italy
1644: First Recorded Instance
Late 17th Century
Francesco Redi, Physician to Grand Dukes of Tuscany
Redi was a physician to Ferdinando II de’ Medici, and Cosimo III de’ Medici. The Medici’s were an extremely wealthy political and banking family, influential in Tuscany and throughout Europe. Redi was also a poet, and wrote in his work how he detested chocolate! One of his recipes was found after he died in 1697, which was titled “Jasmine Chocolate of the Grand Duke of Tuscany”
4.5 kg toasted cacao beans
fresh jasmine flowers
3.6 kg white sugar
85g vanilla beans
2.5 g ambergris (a secretion of the bile duct of sperm whales, when aged smells like rubbing alcohol and was used in the perfume industry).
Issues with Chocolate from 18th C
It causes people to become the greatest chatters and to lose sleep and get hot-headed, angry and shout
loss of appetite
agitation/hyperactivity in children
In 1768 - Joseph Baretti's "An Account of the Manners and Customs of Italy" he tells his readers that chocolate is for "people of an adult age", as drinking something "hot" in the morning causes spoiling of teeth and weaken their bodies.
Hide poison. Pope Clement XIV suppressed the Jesuits in 1773, those closely associated with the preparation of chocolate. In 1774 he died. They say his body decomposed rapidly and fingernails dropped off, suggesting murder, and pointing to the jesuits. The Spaniard Fray Agustin Ferreu wrote to a friend that the surgeon who embalmed the Pope developed swollen hands and arms and his fingernails dropped off as well. However, it's said these allegations were disproved by the medical autopsy.
18th Century: Modican Chocolate
Centuries of Spanish influence brought Chocolate to this part of Italy, where they create artisan chocolate, while still grinding it by hand. You can visit the official site of Chocolate of Modica here.
It was the southern and Spanish ruled parts of Italy, such as Sicily and Naples, which took on chocolate at a much greater intensity than the rest of the “Italian” regions. Venice, for instance, stuck to coffee. Mostly because at the time when chocolate entered Venice, economically it was in decline, and coffee was 1/3 of the price of chocolate.
19th Century: Caffarel, Gianduia, and Nutella
Chocolate in Food
Using chocolate to flavour cooked food would have been taboo for the Mesoamericans from whom the Europeans received this wonderful seed. You can compare it to Christians cooking with communion wine.
As early as the 18th Century in Italy, the following dishes were produced with chocolate:
liver dipped in chocolate, floured, and fried
lasagna with a sauce of almonds, anchovies, walnuts, and chocolate
black polenta (chocolate breadcrumbs, butter, almonds, cinnamon)
chocolate pudding with veal, marrow, candied fruit
crema di cioccolata
almond cake dyed with chocolate, green red and yellow colouring
Chocolate soup (popular in Trento) with milk, sugar, cinnamon, egg yolk, chocolate and poured over toast.
Frozen desserts were invented likely in 17th C in southern Italy, once the effect of large amounts of salt on snow had been discovered.