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Vicki Gilhula November 1, 2010 Savour Sudbury No Comments on Chocolate

Researchers at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, Italy, interviewed 153 women between the ages of 24 and 44 and found women who ate chocolate have better sex lives than women who don’t eat the heavenly treat.

“Chocolate can have a positive physiological impact on a woman’s sexuality,” noted the study.

This may explain something men have known for hundreds of years. Chocolate is the perfect gift for their sweethearts.

“Chocolate is better than sex,” is a comment Denise Regaudie often hears from both women and men in her Bouchard St. chocolate shop, Huckleberries. She and Marcia McGregor purchased the shop in May 2006 from the previous owners. And business is good.

There are people who don’t like chocolate and others who can take it or leave it, but the majority of us can’t get enough of it. Canadians each eat about 5.4 kilograms of the stuff on average per year.

Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa beans come from West Africa. The remaining crops are grown in Asia, South America and the Caribbean. All cacao countries are within 20 degrees north and south of the equator.

The seeds of the cacao tree have an intense bitter taste, and must be fermented to develop the flavour. After being roasted and ground, the resulting products are known as chocolate or cocoa.

Cocoa was originally cultivated in Central America and Mexico, with its earliest documented use around 1100 BC. All of the Mesoamerican peoples made nutritious and stimulating bitter chocolate beverages. The Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency.

The Spanish were introduced to chocolate when they conquered the New World. In 1544, a delegation of Mayans from Guatamala, escorted by Spanish monks, brought a gift of this liquid chocolate drink when they visited King Philip.

The Spanish didn’t care for the bitter taste, but added sugar and spices such as cinnamon and cloves to make a more palatable mixture that they considered medicinal. The imported bean was costly, so for more than 100 years, chocolate was reserved for nobility.

By the 1700s, the wealthy of Europe were enjoying a thick, oily drink made from cocoa beans. In 1828, Conrad van Houten, a Dutchman, invented a way to press the fat or “butter” out of chocolate. The remaining powder became the key ingredient in the non alcoholic stimulating drink we know now as hot chocolate.

A few years later, J.S. Fry of Bristol, England, found a way to mix some of the cocoa butter back into the powder and created the chocolate bar. The Swiss invented milk chocolate in 1876.

Chocolate contains alkaloids which have physiological effects on the body. It has been linked to increased serotonin levels in the brain.
A Harvard study found that people who eat chocolate live one year longer than people who don’t.

Scientists claim that chocolate, eaten in moderation, can lower blood pressure.
Regaudie’s husband eats two small pieces of a Lindt bar with a high cocoa content daily. This helps keep his high blood pressure in line, she said.

Huckleberries also sells lactose free, and sugar-free chocolates. All candies are handmade and many truffles and chocolates are made on-site by Regaudie and McGregor.
Huckleberries’ products are always fresh and do not have any additives or preservatives like mass-produced commercial chocolates, she said.

An increasing number of customers are asking about chocolate with high cocoa content because of the reported health benefits. Huckleberries sells bars with 85 and 65 percent cocoa, and the owners have plans to bring in organic, and fair trade products.
“Fair trade means the people who pick the beans are paid a fair wage,” said Regaudie. “More and more people are asking for fair trade products.”

Although the Swiss have a world-wide reputation for their chocolate, Regaudie prefers to use Belgian chocolate because it is creamier and not as sweet.

In the popular 2000 movie Chocolat, the owner of a small chocolaterie, played by Juliette Binoche, mixed cayenne pepper with chocolate to create an aphrodisiac for customers.
Originally from Texas, Regaudie admits to seeing the movie Chocolat “many times.” And she likes cayenne pepper.

“I add cayenne pepper to chocolate cake that I make at home. The cayenne brings out the chocolate taste,” she said.

Try it, you’ll like it!

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