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The True History of Chocolate


by Sophie D. Coe, Michael D. Coe (Contributor)

The Coes, both anthropologists with a culinary bent, delve deeply into the history of their mouth-watering subject. The material on ancient cultures is particularly fascinating--did you know that the Maya used unsweetened liquid chocolate as currency? And in a chapter called "Chocolate for the Masses," they detail the modernization of chocolate manufacture, which has allowed more than 25 million Hershey's Kisses to roll off the conveyor belt each day.
 This book may be the only way to indulge in chocolate without gaining weight. The "True History of Chocolate" is fascinating in relating the Mayan and Inca cacao rituals - chocolate was an all-purpose sauce, drink, drug, what-have-you, as the recent film "Chocolat" attests. There are wonderful stories of chocolate's introduction to aristocratic Europe, as immortalized by Dicken's account of the Marquis' chocolate drinking in "A Tale of Two Cities." As today, doctors of the day were divided on chocolate's merits, wildly debating whether chocolate generated a phlegmatic or choleric humor. Only very recently was chocolate sweetened, and only later yet was it reduced to solid form and packaged in factories. The Coes seem to suggest that something mysterious was forever lost when the vulgarians of Cadbury and Hershey started peddling cacao to the masses.
Reviewer: matherson, from Rhinebeck, NY


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