The Food of the Gods

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Siguiendo las buenas costumbres que aprendí en el blog de un gran amigo mío, presto el mío para postear un paper de @SassySaori que me encantó (y que también le debe encantar a @SueAnn04 y a todos los #chococolics como nosotros!). Espero que sea de su agrado.

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by: @SassySaori

The other day, I felt like I was going to die. My period had come. I had just had lunch and it seemed as if I was having a nausea and headache dessert. However, I’m not going to dwell in what we all (most of us women, at least!) experience every month, but, rather, on what my dear brother me told that afternoon: “Why don’t you have some of that milk chocolate you like?” Then it came to my mind, why did he suggest chocolate? Could it really help me feel better? Out of curiosity and whim, I went to the mini-mart, bought a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar, opened it, smelled its sweet aroma, and took a bite. Then it dawned on me; chocolate really did make me feel different, better. The feeling of peace and serenity it gave me cannot be given even by the most delicious filet mignon or lasagna or any other food, because chocolate it’s more than just candy, more than just food.

Chocolate is made from the cocoa bean, the seed of the cacao tree.  The cacao tree’s fruits are pods, from which are extracted the seeds and pulp. After harvesting, both ferment, becoming darker and developing the rich cocoa flavor, and next they are dried. To begin the process of chocolate making, the cocoa beans are roasted and the shell is removed to obtain the nib, the inside part of the bean. The nibs are meld or ground to produce pure liquid chocolate known as: chocolate liqueur. From the chocolate liqueur it’s obtained both cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The different types of chocolate are the result of the combination of these two components in varying proportions and other things like sugar, milk, almonds, nuts, among others. If we are to compare this process with another similar one, like coffee making we would find that at first the process it almost the same. However, after being roasted and ground, the result only has to be mixed with hot water for long enough to extract the flavor and the coffee is ready to be consumed. Whereas, chocolate still has to undergo other processes before you can enjoy a chocolate bar or cup of hot chocolate. (Hersheys.com)

There is a popular belief that most women consume chocolate when we are depressed or excited, and that most of us have this irrational love for chocolate, but chocolate actually has beneficial effects for someone’s body. Chocolate brings instant comfort and acts as a mild anti-depressant by increasing our serotonin and endorphin levels. Some stimulants present in chocolate include dopamine and serotonin. Both relieve pain and promote feelings of happiness. In particular, serotonin produces feelings of pleasure in a similar way to sunlight (chocolateexpert.co.uk). Chocolate also contains theobromine, which, like caffeine and aminophylline, is a natural stimulant of the central nervous system.  This substance promotes the release of endorphins, resulting in a stimulatory effect. It causes the dilatation of blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure and helps prevent heart diseases such as hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and angina pectoris.  Also, it has been proved to loosen the bronchi, thus being an efficient reliever of asthma symptoms. Besides, theobromine is use as a diuretic; that is, to help urination.  Furthermore, it is plausible to make use if it in the future to prevent cancer. (Wikipedia.org)

Unlike caffeine, theobromine does not have a strong addictive effect. Theobromine is weaker in both its inhibition of cyclic nucleotide phosphodiesterases and its antagonism of adenosine receptors; therefore it has a lesser effect on the central nervous system. However, it is possibly responsible for chocolate addiction. Chocolate has a unique effect: when craving chocolate specifically, only chocolate can satisfy that craving. Moreover, theobromine is one of the substances that contribute to chocolate’s reputation as an aphrodisiac (Wikipedia.org). In fact, the word chocolate comes from the Aztec word ‘Xocoatl’, a drink that they related with their goddess of fertility. Apparently the Aztecs first considered chocolate as an aphrodisiac and all foods made with chocolate were forbidden to women. In addition, the cacao tree’s scientific name is ‘theobroma cacao’, where theobroma literally means “food of the gods”. (Chocolate.org)

Chocolate throughout history has had a special role in society. For the pre-Columbian cultures, cacao beans where a divine gift and where used not only to make drinks, but also as their form of currency. Even later in the colonies, chocolate was used as payment. Later on, it became available in Europe, although only for people of court or who had enough money to afford it. But a curious fact is, that it took a woman and a wedding to make chocolate a star. It was the Spanish princess Maria Teresa, who came to the French court at Versailles to marry King Louis XIV and brought her precious chocolate with her, along with everything needed to make it. In the wedding, hot chocolate was served to the crème of European society. During the 17th century, it was consumed for its health benefits and was describe as an elixir of life. It was thought of as a cure to almost any kind of illness. Afterwards, thanks to the advances in technology it was made possible the creation of chocolate bars and there was not just hot chocolate, it was found in recipes for main dishes, desserts and more. Finally, due to the industrial revolution, it became available to many other people at a more affordable cost. Chocolate powder was found in every household and chocolate become a treat that not only the aristocrats could enjoy, but everyone could. (Allchocolate.com)

Manufacturing technologies now made all sorts of chocolate dreams possible: chocolate- covered nougats, chocolate-covered peanut butter, chocolate in tiny drops and in five-pound bars; chocolate embedded with every kind of nut imaginable. Molded chocolates in the shapes of bunnies, eggs, Santas, some hollow, some solid and some filled with delicious fondants and creams. Chocolate treats are popular in any holiday: from Christmas to Halloween, Easter to Valentine’s Day. Is there any other kind of food that has such effect in our society? For instance, you don’t see coffee being advertized in that way during any holiday, or any other food for that matter. Chocolate also is the traditional gift of love, ranking right up there with roses as the most romantic gift one can give. When you receive a heart shaped box full of chocolate inside, the joy and feelings that you experience are not just because chocolate is delicious. That chocolate can represents so many things: love, friendship, that someone cares about you; and when you eat it, it intensifies those feeling bringing you peace and happiness. On the other hand, if you were to receive other food, unless it was your favorite dish made by the love of your life, it wouldn’t have such a deep meaning as chocolate by itself does. Even if you are not a chocolate lover, you know what it means when you receive it as a gift, the effect of chocolate and its meaning is universal.

There is something undeniably magical and mystical about chocolate. The word itself is sensual, romantic, charming, dreamy, appealing, divine, and pleasant. Just the thought of chocolate brings to me the image of its creamy, silky texture; its deep, dark or light, elegant color; its sweet (or not so sweet), rich flavor and aroma. The feeling of a piece of chocolate melting in my mouth is definitely one of my life’s most pleasurable moments. Chocolate is something special, is more than just food: is like a treasure. When I think about chocolate it’s not just that it tastes good, but that it makes me feel good, that is something valuable that brings happiness to my life and helps me to enjoy life.

To eat a chocolate bar or drink a cup of hot chocolate makes my body relax and it gives me a peace and tranquility that can only be compared with being hugged by someone who loves you. To feel loved and safe, to feel like nothing can go wrong and you just have to give yourself the opportunity to believe it. Chocolate is magical, it could be that I am completely stressed about having to finish an assignment of which I still can’t make sense of, but if I eat chocolate, it takes me to another world, another reality where the stress is gone and I can think with clarity.

Chocolate is better than any other food, but no just because is more delicious or appetitive, whereas because is more valuable: it represents feelings, peacefulness, satisfaction, pleasure and happiness. And when you look at the big picture, is not just chocolate that is that valuable, but anything that can be treasured is worth more than just its material value. It’s the place in our heart and soul that really determine its true value for us.

“Chocolate is a divine, celestial drink, the sweat of the stars, the vital seed, divine nectar, the drink of the gods, panacea and universal medicine.”

Geronimo Piperni, quoted by Antonio Lavedán, surgeon in the Spanish army, 1796.

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