Sunday, December 16, 2012

Chocolate, Anyone?

Christian Constant
Giving a box of chocolate is a popular gift during the holiday season.  Who doesn't like receiving chocolate?  France is passionate about chocolate.   It consumes 400,000 tons a year or about 6.4 kg per capita. Though not the leader in Europe for chocolate consumption (the Swiss, British and Germans consumes more), French prefer their chocolate dark and they like it of high quality 60-70% pure cocoa and rich in cocoa butter (at least 31%) . Over the last 30 years, gourmet chocolate boutiques have proliferated in Paris and all around France. On a  walking stroll around Paris you will be enticed by more than one artistically decorated windows of chocolatiers.

Debauve &Gallais
For the history, chocolate came to Europe via Hernan Cortes and the Conquistadores who were introduced to the cocoa bean and the drink  made with it by the Aztecs of Mexico.  Hernan Cortes returned to Spain with the recipe of a chocolate drink but adapted to the colonists of New Spain.  Chocolate then  traveled to the court of France via the marriage of Anne of Austria (a Spanish Infanta) to Louis XIII.  At the court of Versailles from the 17th century till the Revolution, the chocolate drink became all the rage and it was appreciated for its aphrodisiac and energetic properties.  King Louis XV was a great lover of chocolate beverage and he had his own recipe that he on occasion prepared for himself in the kitchens of his private apartments.  In the 19th century  the process of turning chocolate into chocolate bars or tablets was invented in England and the production of chocolate bars was launched by companies like Cadbury in England, Meunier in France and Nestle and Lindt in Switzerland.

Today, chocolate shops compete for inventive recipes and artistry in the making of chocolate confections.  Here are just a few Parisian addresses of master chocolate artisans:

Jean Paul Hevin- 231 rue Saint Honore - Paris 8 and other stores
Christian Constant- 37 rue D'Assas ( Paris 7)
Patrick Roger -45 avenue Victor Hugo (Paris 16) and other stores
Yves Thuries-17 rue Daunou (Paris 2)
Debauve & Gallais -30 rue Saint des Peres (Paris 6) and other stores
La Maison du Chocolat- 52 rue Francois I (Paris 8) and other stores
A la Mere de Famille - 35 rue du Faubourg Montmartre (Paris 9) and other stores
Chocolat Puyricard-24 rue du Cherche Midi (Paris 6) and other stores

And for the best hot chocolate drink, head to Angelina's, a Parisian institution.
(226 rue de Rivoli- Paris 1)

Also, visit the Musee du Chocolat --23 blvd. Bonne Nouvelle (Paris 10) for an educational and tasty visit of the world's favorite bean.

Did you know that chocolate is good for your health?  As some research suggests daily consumption of dark chocolate has benefits  to reduce high blood pressure, inflammation and blood clotting.

Tag: Paris, chocolate


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