Today 7 July it’s International Chocolate Day and that means I have an excuse to indulge in all things chocolate. Frankly, it’s part of my job. The taste, the look, the colour, the texture. As they would say in Masterchef, with scant regard for the crime of turning a noun into a verb, “Today it’s all about heroing the chocolate.”
But first to some important chocofacts courtesy of The Smithsonian Institute no less. The Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus gave the cocoa tree its scientific name , Theobroma cacao, which means “Food of the Gods.” Cocoa products contain theobromine, an alkaloid similar to caffeine but far less potent. Mesoamerican peoples have been reported to have used cacao for over 34 centuries with their chocolate use traced by the presence of theobromine in their pottery.
Americans eat almost half of the world’s yearly supply of chocolate. But hopefully none of this is being eaten by American Dogs. Chocolate can be potentially fatal for our canine friends, since canines are unable to break down and excrete the high amounts of fat and theobromine as efficiently as humans. Eating chocolate does have its upsides. The Aztecs considered chocolate to be an aphrodisiac, and ruler Montezuma reportedly consumed 50 cups of the chocolate beverage, xocolatl, per day. With all that drinking one wonders where he found the time to do anything else.
Now to some numbers. Did you know an average cocoa pod contains about 40 cocoa beans and that it takes over 1,000 cocoa beans to make one kilogram of chocolate liquor, the key ingredient in milk and dark chocolates (white chocolate is a pretender)? That means a lot of beans would have been used in the construction of the Guinness Book of Records approved World’s largest chocolate rabbit constructed by the Brazilians in 2014. The rabbit weighs 3850kg and in an unsurprising move, has a soccer ball at its feet. And who says chocolate makes you put on weight? That Brazilian rabbit actually lost some weight due to evaporation in a cooling box between the time he was first set and when the official Guinness of World Records Adjudicator arrived to take the final measurements.
What is perhaps most alluring about chocolate is its rich colour which makes it perfect as a gift and more importantly for gift wrapping and embellishments across occasions. Of course, you have to get the chocolate colour spot on – I would not want to inadvertently stray into a mission brown colour – but when you do get chocolate right, and in moderation, it’s a winner. Chocolate ribbon looks particularly fine with kraft paper with a bit of cut through provided by the little white dot. Of course I had to eat the chocolate balls from this image – but again that’s part of my job.