I love my chocolate. Always have and I suspect I always well. And since yesterday was Easter, a number of us probably have tons of if sitting around the house. Just don’t let your kids catch you sneaking a piece out of their basket.
I keep a bag of Hershey kisses in my desk at work. Sometimes just one or two are all I need around three in the afternoon. In my office at home, I have miniature Reese’s cups. The protein from the peanut butter keeps me going and I can write more (it’s my story and I am sticking with it).
As for beverages, I like a thick rich drink with steamed milk (and whipped cream, of course). In a pinch, I will make my own cup of hot cocoa (not one of those powders you add to hot water). Just follow the recipe on the back of the cocoa can/tin by adding the right amount of warm milk, vanilla, salt and sugar – yum!!!!
However, my favorite chocolate bar would have no less 75% cocoa. That’s right – rich, almost bitter, dark chocolate. The higher the percentage the more I love it. Next year (crosses fingers) I will have an opportunity to visit Paris and a few other cities and one of the things I plan on doing is embracing my passion on a Chocolate Walk. What better place to eat, drink and enjoy chocolate than Paris? Of the seven places listed on the walk I picked, I think the last will be my favorite because of the history alone: Debauve & Gallais. They were founded in 1800 and have been in their current location since 1818. Their history is fascinating (at least to this chocolate lover). You can read about it here, here and here.
Sulpice Debauve (one of the original owners) was a former chemist for Louis XVI. While with the royal family, the queen, Marie Antoinette, complained her medicine tasted too strong and suggested taking it with her hot chocolate. I am not sure if they discovered this was a bad idea by trying it or if Debauve knew it wouldn’t work and came up with the idea of putting the medicine in a chocolate. The Queen was delighted and called them Pistoles. These first chocolates were made of cocoa and cane sugar with the medicine mixed within. She requested more, but with an improved taste. Debauve then produced more Pistoles (chocolates) with orange blossom, almond milk, Orgeat cream, coffee, vanilla, and I am assuming other flavors.
Following the French Revolution, and I am grateful nobody found it necessary to take off Debauve’s head, Debauve opened his first chocolate shop in 1800 and called it “A la Renommée des chocolats de France” (“Fame – fine reputation – of French Chocolates”).
“Sulpice Debauve had most probably read the findings of doctor Stephanius Blancardius from Amsterdam who, almost a century before, in 1705, claimed: ‘Chocolate is not only pleasurable to the taste, but truly is a balm for the mouth, keeping glands and mucous membranes healthy. That is why those who drink it have such a sweet breath.’ A doctor recommending chocolate consumption as a therapy must have pleased our chemist / chocolate maker very much, all the more since he said: ‘Do eat chocolate, as it frees you from the cough that shakes your entire body like a fury. It softens the ills better yet than any other syrup. Come and have some if your digestion is difficult. You will recover your strength in no time, and your winter will turn into a verdurous spring…’”
In 1804, Debauve opened over sixty new shops and his products were even mail-ordered and delivered by horse and carriage. In that same year Grimod de la Reynière wrote about Debauve and ended the article with “I demand he opens up new shops in each city or town regardless of its size, so that everyone can enjoy the medicinal and sensual benefits of the best chocolates known to date.” There is a note that the first Parisian chocolate maker of its kind came to be around 1670 but I cannot find any information on my beloved chocolate dating before Debauve.
Since those first chocolates, hundreds have been invented and companies have come and gone. Some of my favorites to date are Hershey, Godiva, Ghirardelli, oh, there really are too many too list. I have a feeling that Debauve & Gallais chocolates may be a favorite, if I ever actually have the opportunity to taste them. However, they are a bit out of my price range since a 1.7 pound box of Pistoles De Marie Antoinette sells for $200.00 (pictured to your right), and that was in their store in New York. I was going to ask my critique partner, Jerrica Knight-Catania, to swing by and pick me up an itsy bitsy bon bon and bring it to me when we meet up in Chicago for the Romantic Times Convention but I just learned they closed :(. Guess I will need to get my chocolate from France after all.
I know that it is widely believed that there were no chocolates in Regency England, and I don’t dispute this. I have found no evidence of chocolates being sold or made in England. However, given there have been so many shops in shops in France since 1804, I consider it plausible that at least one Englishman may have stopped in a Debauve & Gallais shop and sampled. And, this is why I have allowed my hero in His Contrary Bride to make chocolates for the lady he was courting. It may be a stretch, but not impossible. And besides, I write fiction and since it was possible that chocolates could be made, I don’t see why he can’t make them. Though I do wonder, if there were so many shops in Paris, why didn’t anyone open one in London? It would have been all the rage, I am sure. Or, maybe they did, and we just can’t find the evidence of it.
I am looking forward to my Paris Chocolate Walk more than before. It will be a healthy experience because not only will the walking be beneficial, but the chocolate is healthy too, or so said Dr. Stephanius Blancardius in 1705 and I believe him.
Are you a chocolate lover? Which is your favorite?
Countess of Content
Countess of Content