Chocolate biscuits, chocolate brownies, hot chocolate, chocolate cake, chocolate mousse and chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn’t like chocolate?
In this podcast, you’ll learn the history of chocolate, how it’s made and also we’ll have a blind chocolate tasting on the podcast!
Voice message from Carmen from Spain
pronunciation: podcast (not postcard)
I have been living in UK since 3 months ago (since December / for three months / I got here 3 months ago)
I found an interesting pronunciation resource that you might find useful. It’s called https://youglish.com/ (YouTube + English).
Just type in a word or phrase into the box, click the accent you want to hear
and the algorithm will play you short examples from YouTube videos. Very cool!
English Pronunciation for Spanish Speakers:
Voice message from Sonia from Barcelona (living in Berlin)
I’ve been listening to you for four months (correct present perfect continuous, correct time expression and you remembered the preposition ‘to’ after ‘listen’ 🙂
It’s (always) a pleasure always to listen to you.
The history of chocolate
The first cacao (or cocoa) plants were found around 4000 years ago where Mexico is today (Mesoamerica). One of the earliest civilizations in Latin America was the Olmec and they were the first to turn the cacao plant into chocolate around 1500 BC. They drank their chocolate during rituals and used it as medicine.
Centuries later, the Mayans used chocolate to worship their gods. Mayan chocolate was a mixture of roasted and ground cacao seeds mixed with chillies, water and cornmeal. Mayans poured this mixture from one pot to another, creating a thick foamy liquid called xocolatl (from Nahuati, the Aztec language. It means “bitter water”. For most of its history, chocolate wasn’t sweet. It was a bitter drink.
By the 15th century, the Aztecs used cocoa beans as currency. They believed that chocolate was a gift from the gods and drank it as an aphrodisiac, and even to prepare for war.
Many people believe that the Spanish explorer Hernán Cortés brought chocolate to Spain in 1528. The Spanish mixed the bitter chocolate drink with sugar and honey to make it sweeter.
Chocolate slowly spread to the rich and wealthy around Europe and special ‘chocolate houses’ opened in France and Britain.
The chocolate press was invented in 1828. The press squeezed cocoa butter from roasted beans and produced cocoa powder. The powder could be mixed with liquids and other ingredients and poured into a mold to make a bar of chocolate.
How is chocolate made?
Chocolate is made from the fruit of the cacao tree, ‘Theobroma cacao’ (Greek for ‘Food of the Gods). These trees are native to Central and South America.
Each cacao ‘pod’ contains 30-40 beans which are fermented for about a week and then dried and roasted. The outer shell is removed and the inner cocoa bean ‘meat’ is broken into small pieces called cocoa nibs.
The cacao nibs pass through a current of air, which blows the shells off.
The cacao nibs are ground into chocolate liquid.
The chocolate liquid is mixed with other ingredients (vanilla, cacao butter etc). This varies depending on the quality of the chocolate that is finally produced.
The chocolate is passed through rollers to give it a more silky texture.
The final stage of blending is the conching machine, which mixes and kneads the chocolate and makes it taste less bitter.
Making Chocolate: Cacao Tree To Chocolate Bar:
Types of chocolate
Milk chocolate: By law, milk chocolate must contain at least 20% cocoa solids in the EU. In the US the minimum is 10%. The milk added can be powdered, liquid or condensed.
Dark, or plain, chocolate: Has a higher percentage of cocoa and a stronger cocoa taste. All the fat content in the chocolate is from cocoa butter and not from milk.
Chocolate with no added sugar is called ‘unsweetened chocolate’ and is often used for baking.
White chocolate: contains cocoa butter (not cocoa solids), sugar and milk.
Chocolate tasting. What’s the percentage of cacao?
Best chocolate recipes and cookbooks: Alice Medrich: https://alicemedrich.com/
…and now it’s your turn to practise your English. What’s your favourite chocolate?
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On next week’s episode: Defining and non-defining relative clauses
The music in this podcast is by Pitx. The track is called ‘See You Later’
Photo by Jenni Miska on Unsplash
Photo by Tetiana Bykovets on Unsplash