“Food, Sex, Chocolate and Mortality” – by Gary S. Smolker
Food, sex, chocolate and mortality are the four great givens of human existence.
Below are pictures of me cooking New Year Eve dinner on December 31, 2015.
Enhancing Pleasurable Activities
Cooking is fun, and eating is a social activity.
Eating chocolate is fun too.
Chocolate was a beverage of the elite known as the “Food of the Gods” during most of the thousands of years humans have been enjoying it.
Chocolate is manufactured from cacao.
An unknown Mexican Indian in the lowlands of Southern Mexico first turned cacao beans into the Food of the Gods.
Today, chocolate is the most famous Mexican food on Planet earth.
During 9/10th of its history, chocolate was drunk not eaten.
The caffeine, theobromine, serotonin, and phenylethylamine that chocolate contains makes it an anti-depressant and anti-stress agent, enhancing pleasurable activities, including making love.
Serotonin is a mood-lifting hormone produced naturally by the brain; phenylethylamine is similar to other mood changing brain chemicals.
Two of the above substances (caffeine and theobromine) comprising one to two percent by weight of the cacao are known to have physiological effects on humans. These are the alkaloids (or, more technically, methylxanthines).
Alkaloids form salts when treated with acids and have physiological consequences on the animals that ingest them. Humans pursue some of them with passion.
Theobromine, like all alkaloids, is a stimulant to the central nervous system. Its specific talent is to dilate the blood vessels; it is also a diuretic, that is, it stimulates the flow of urine.
Caffeine is credited with lessening fatigue, enhancing the intellectual faculties, stimulating gastric secretions, and promoting urination.
Cacao is the source of the world’s first stimulating drink.
Chocolate was the first drink to introduce Europeans to the pleasures of alkaloid consumption.
By the way, chocolate, tea, and coffee only became widely available to the European public in the middle of the 17th century, albeit the first European encounter with cacao took place when Columbus, on his fourth and last voyage, came across a great Maya trading canoe with cacao beans amongst its cargo.
A very expensive modern chocolate product has been named Guanaja, the place where this happened.
Some women claim that as far as they know chocolate is a substitute for sex at Christmas, because of all the chocolate.
The Food of the Gods
During most of its existence chocolate has been a beverage of the elite, the aristocracy, royalty and the Church.
That remained the case until Europe’s Age of Reason where in England and other Protestant countries chocolate (and coffee) houses sprang up as meeting places and eventually clubs for nascent political parties.
The idea that coffee/hot cocoa deserves to be drunk in stylish surroundings is not new.
The original trendy cafe – in which coffee and pastry were paired for the first time – [Cafe Procope] opened its doors in Paris in 1675 on rue de Tournon. A few years later it moved to the rue des Fosses Saint-Germain (today’s rue de l’Ancienne Comedie, where the establishment now the oldest continually functioning cafe in the world, can still be found at number 13.
When the Revolution brought down the Catholic and royal establishment in France, coffee and tea, – the favored hot drinks of the philosophes and salons of the Enlightenment – replaced drunk chocolate.
Tea, of course, is most enjoyable if one drinks their tea while eating a treat such as short cake with dark chocolate, or plain German dark chocolate or plain Belgium white chocolate or Dutch milk chocolate.
One must have chocolate with their tea.
That is to say, tea is most enjoyable with chocolate — one must eat chocolate while sipping their tea.
[Aside: If you are interested in biscuits, check out http://www.ibcfood.com]
At the end of the Age of Reason, the marquis de Sade, was a staunch “chocoholic” in spite of his wildly anti-establishment prose and actions.
The history of chocolate began thousands of years ago when unknown Mexican Indian (a member of the first civilization of the Americas – the Olmec – which existed from 1500 to 400 BC) first turned cacao beans into the “Food of the Gods”, chocolate. This happened more than 3,000 years ago.
Among the Aztecs, cacao beans were used as money as well as foodstuff; chocolate was the beverage of choice of Aztec nobles and before them the Maya elite and later of the Jesuit clerics that came after Cortes’ conquest of Mexico.
Where and How the Tree that Bears Cacao Beans Grows
The tree that bears cacao beans/seeds is difficult to grow.
With few exceptions it refuses to bear fruit outside a band of 20 degrees north and 20 degrees south of the Equator.
It will not grow if temperatures fall below 60° F or 16° C and it demands year round moisture.
The flowers produced on the cacao tree are pollinated exclusively by midges.
The ideal breeding ground for midges is the litter and mess natural to the rain forest floor.
Unless flowers on a cacao tree are pollinated they will not produce a pod containing cacao beans.
Growing cacao trees in well groomed plantations is counterproductive.
For that reason, the yield of cacao beans in huge modern well groomed neatly manicured cacao plantations from hundreds of flowering flowers on a single cacao tree is a disappointing one to three percent.
From Pollinated Flowers on a Cacao Tree to Hundreds of Thousands of Cacao Beans
Once pollinated, each flower on a cacao tree produces a large pod containing 40 to 50 cacao beans/seeds.
The pods take five months to ripen.
From Cacao Bean to Chocolate
Once a pod on a cacao tree is opened and its seeds/beans are extracted four steps must be taken to produce cacao nibs which are then ground into chocolate.
These are (1) fermentation, (2) drying, (3) roasting, and (4) winnowing.
During the first day of fermentation all sorts of chemical processes take place which rise the temperature of the beans; during fermentation, the adhering pulp becomes liquid and drains away.
Most importantly the seeds briefly germinate and soon thereafter are killed by the high temperature and increased acidity caused by fermentation of the seeds and pulp.
This must take place because ungerminated seeds/beans do not give a chocolate flavor to the finished product.
By the third day, the temperature of the mass of cacao beans stays between 45°C (113°F) and 50°C (122°F). The mass of fermenting beans must stay at this temperature for several days after germination, for if it does not the “chocolate” will not taste like chocolate.
Once fermentation is completed, the cacao beans are dried. Traditionally the cacao beans are dried on mats or trays left in the sun for one to two weeks, depending on the weather.
During the drying process the enzymatic action initiated by the fermentation process continues, and the beans lose more than half their weight.
After the beans are dry they are roasted for 70 to 115 minutes at temperatures of 99° – 104°C (210° – 219°F) for chocolate and 116° – 121°C (240° – 250°F) for cocoa powder. This is absolutely necessary for development of flavor and aroma.
Due to chemical changes and loss of moisture during roasting, the nib becomes a darker brown in color, more friable, and less astringent.
After roasting, during the final step (winnowing), the thin shell is peeled off or otherwise removed. The resulting nibs can then be ground into chocolate or cocoa powder.
Over half the weight of the cured, dried roasted nib is made up of fat.
The exact percentage of fat depends on the variety of cacao and growing conditions.
Besides fat, each cacao bean contains less than 10% by weight of protein and starch.
The remaining portion of the cacao bean (which contains hundreds of identified compounds) that provokes the many varied responses to chocolate.
Caffeine and theobromine make up 1 to 2 percent by weight of the cacao.
Fat obtained from the nibs by a mechanical process is called “cacao butter” or “cocoa butter.”
In addition to being used in the production of high-grade chocolate, cacao butter in used in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.
The cacao solids which are left after cacao butter is extracted are “cocoa.”
Chocolate connoisseurs are concerned with the percentage of cacao solids in the chocolate the consume.
“Junk chocolate” has only 15% cacao solids.
Really fine chocolate has up to 70% cacao solids.
The remaining composition being sugar, milk solids, and solid vegetable fat.
The valuable cacao butter is taken out and sold elsewhere.
Aside: A natural preference for sweetness is not acquired but built in: even newborns suck faster on sweetened liquids.]
Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate Is A Wonderful Double Chocolate Cocoa Concoction
I love the Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate served at my local IHOP Store in Encino, California at 5635 Ventura Blvd., Encino, CA 91436.
Below is a picture of Maria Sanchez enjoying a Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate and another one of me enjoying a Toasted Marshmallow Hot Chocolate with Maria on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2016 at the Encino IHOP store.
Have you ever had toasted marshmallow hot chocolate?
If not, try it some time.
Men: Try having a huge cup of toasted marshmallow hot chocolate with a woman and find out what a pleasurable conversation you will have.
You and she will be smiling while you are drinking your huge cups of toasted marshmallow hot chocolate, and doing so will become a pleasant memory.
It ancient Maya civilization, after Maya kings and high nobles died, they were buried in tombs with chocolate drink to accompany them on their journey to the next world.
Copyright © 2015 and 2016 by Gary S. Smolker, All Rights Reserved
Posted on December 31, 2015, in Chocolate, Enhancing Pleasurable Activities, Uncategorized and tagged Age of Enlightenment, alkaloids, cacao, cacao beans, cacao butter, cacao nibs, cacao powder, cacao seeds, cacao tree, Cafe Procope, caffeine, chocolate, cocoa butter, coffee, Columbus, double chocolate cocoa concoction, fat, flowers on cacao trees, food, Food of the Gods, germinated flowers on cacao trees, Guanaja, IHOP, Internation House of Pancakes, marquis de Sade, Maya, Maya civilization, methylxanthines, Mexico, midges, nib., phenyl-ethylamine, pleasurable activities, pleasure, pods, serotonin, sex, Southern Mexico, tea, theobromine, toasted marshmallow hot chocolate. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.