Hello my fellow chocolate lovers,
I am Takanori Chiwata, the chocolate engineer of COCONAMA CHOCOLATE.
In our last post, we discussed how chocolate adapted to Italy.
Today, I’d like to share about how chocolate made its way to the country, which we know as the “country of gourmet”… That’s right! France!!
There are actually 3 different theories on how chocolate got to France.
The first theory is that Anne of Austria brought it over when she married Louis XIII of France.
Some of you may be puzzled on how Austria just came up out of the blue, so allow me to explain: Anne of Austria was a daughter to the Spanish king and Margaret of Austria. Back in the day, Spanish and Austrian Royals had many marriages of state through the House of Habsburg, which naturally made the two colonies very intimate with each other. This allowed chocolate to get to France from Spain, the motherland of chocolate.
The second theory is that the Spanish priests sent it over to the French priests as a gift. Just like how it got to America from Spain.
The third theory is that it was introduced as a type of medicine to France.
It is recorded that Alphonse du Richelieu, Cardinal of Lyon, was the very first person to use chocolate as a medicine in France. It seems that he had a poor spleen, and attempted to use chocolate to treat it.
This theory seems pretty accurate, as it is recorded that Richelieu consulted a famous physician in Paris about the health benefits of chocolate in 1642.
If the name “Richelieu” rang a bell for you, you must really have a passion for world history! This guy, Alphonse Richelieu, was actually a brother of the famous politician, Arman Jean du Richelieu. Isn’t it quite interesting when you think a famous politician like him started eating chocolate influenced by his siblings?
In 1654, Cardinal Jules Mazarin succeeded the chief minister and brought over tea, coffee, and chef especially for chocolate from Italy. Cardinal Mazarin was in fact VERY fond of chocolate, but his recipe of Tuscan chocolate roasted the bean too much, making it bitter, poor in nutrients, and disliked by the rest.
Later on in 1659, Cardinal Mazarin granted exclusive distribution rights of chocolate throughout France to David Chalieu.
Exclusive distribution rights in France… How wonderful does that sound? Like, can I have that too??
Let’s just fast forward to the reign of Louis XIV. In 1659, he married Maria Theresa of Spain. Just like the previous people, he brought over chefs from Spain to enjoy chocolate at the palace. At the time however, it was still believed that chocolate was only meant for the real upper-classes, so it was his own little secret.
Well, it didn’t remain a secret for too long. In less than 10 years, it was common for the regular upper classes at the French palace to drink chocolate. It was also around this time when chocolate gained a reputation for having health benefits as well.
In 1684, a French physician , Joseph Pageot???, quotes that “As we all know, chocolate is wonderful, and is suitable to be called the ‘godly food’”. There it is. GODLY FOOD. He probably translated the scientific name of cacao, Theobroma cacao, which literally translates to “food for gods”.
During this time, they also invented something called “chocolatier”. It is a teapot-like vessel with holes on its lid for whisks to stir the chocolate in it. Additionally, these were made of silver. As expected of French Royals, how fancy!
Finally, let me share the chocolate recipe from the Baroque period.
The ingredients were cacao, red sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, and chili. It is described as “Spanish style”, and just by the ingredients you can tell how it travelled and altered from Spain to Tuscan, and Tuscan to France.
In our next post, I’d like to talk about how chocolate got introduced to Britain, a country with a unique political and cultural background.
With hopes that you will be able to encounter the perfect chocolate just for you,