Most people love the taste of chocolate. Some enjoy sweet milk chocolate and others prefer strong dark chocolate. But most chocolate lovers agree – there is no other food like it. It has a wonderful rich taste which stays in your mouth. Did you know that chocolate has more than 300 different flavours in it? It is no surprise that chocolate is now more and more popular in countries all around the world.
But what is chocolate and where did it first come from? Chocolate is made from the beans of the cacao tree. These trees first grew in the rainforests of Central and South America and people began to sue the beans a very long time ago. The tree has large fruits called pods and these hold the beans inside. The scientific name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, tells us about the wonderful food that comes from it. Theobroma means ‘food of the gods’.
People now grow cacao trees in more than twenty different countries and not just in Central or South America. The trees need hot weather and you can find them in Brazil, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Ivory Coast in Africa too. Farmers grow around 4 million tonnes of cacao beans a year and more than a third of this comes from the Ivory Coast.
Who eats the most chocolate in the world today? It is the people of Switzerland, who have 12.3 kilograms each every year! The Germans come next at 11.1 kilograms each, then the Belgians at 11 kilograms each, and the British at 10.2 kilograms each.
You can eat or drink chocolate in many different ways. There are big boxes of chocolates of different flavours, little chocolate bars that go in your bag or pocket, wonderful biscuits and large birthday cakes. In the summer you can eat chocolate ice cream, or on a cold winter’s night you can drink hot chocolate to keep you warm.
Chocolate has also been important in books and films. Perhaps the most famous book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. It is the story of a poor boy who wins a visit to a wonderful chocolate factory. The factory belongs to the strange and exciting sweet-maker Willy Wonka. The book became two films, and in the second film Johnny Depp plays the clever but dangerous Mr Wonka. But this in not the only book about chocolate to become a film. There is Like Water for Chocolate from the Mexican writer Laura Esquivel, and Chocolat by Joanne Harris, which also became a film with Johnny Depp.
We can see that chocolate is in our stories, films and books today. But when did the story of chocolate itself really begin? We need to look back thousands of years ago for the answer.
This article is taken from Oxford Bookworms Factfiles 2: Chocolate – Purchase the eBook