I can’t just simply walk by a place that has something to do with chocolate.
There are many, many reasons why I keep coming back to Latin America, but I just realized that there always is a chocolateria or a chocolate museum in the big city. I never fail to have a look, and most of the time a taste too. This past Wednesday, I reached an epiphany through following my language school’s effort of gringo enculturation: a trip to a chocolateria.
Before my mouth starts watering at the thought of it, I’ll get you started on your chocolate education:
Basics, essentials, and everything that’s good for you:
– Chocolate makes you feel better – its natural antidepressant (tryptophan) helps your body create serotonin
– Chocolate is an aphrodisiac – chemicals found in cacao (like theobromine) act as mild sexual stimulants
– Chocolate is good for your heart – it contains high quality anti-oxidants that have anticanceric properties and can protect you from heart diseases
– 875,000 chocolate chips would provide you with enough energy to walk… around the world!
– Having chocolate melt in your mouth increases your brain activity and heart rate more intensely than passionate kissing. And guess what – it lasts four times longer
– Chocolate causing acne is a popular belief, but… it’s a myth.
Cultural bits and pieces:
– For every chocolate bar consumed by the Chinese, the British eat 1,000. Yes, a 1,000!
– 1 in every 200 workers in Belgium is involved in the chocolate industry
– ~61% of cocoa beans used for world’s chocolate production come from Africa
(all of these facts were reproduced from Choco Museo’s exhibition boards in Granada, Nicaragua)
And while Guatemala produces barely 1% of chocolate out there, it really is worth trying. During our relatively short visit in the museum/shop, we watched a documentary about cocoa’s history, and ate three desserts each. Before we calmed down from the excitement brought by chocolate dipped fruit, a chocolate-infused yoghurt was served, then as a break each of us got a block of cocoa paste to play with (a.k.a. ‘design your own chocolate bar’), and to top it off, everyone drank a glass of delicious, genuine, organic hot chocolate. All of it for under $3.
As the chocolateria owner Doña Pancha told us, 50g of chocolate a day in any form (maybe besides the added fat and sugar) can lead you through a healthy, strong, and delicious life. So treat yourself, you have all the excuses you’ll ever need.
It must have tasted amazing! not like the additive and corner-cut chocolate we find in the average bar here.
Is it typically spicy? I have heard of ‘traditional’ recipes that involve chili peppers – the other way it is ‘hot’ chocolate.
Indeed, it was amazing! Very rich and dense flavor if I may describe it so. They also do chocolate with canela, chilli, nuts, and all sorts of stuff that I can’t name off the top of my head, but I have only tried the “pure” chocolate – without milk or any additives.
It sounds good though, and Mayans have used it, so there must be something special about it ;)