Fathers, Dominicans that is, helped bridge the New World’s chocolate to the Old World. In 1544 Padres tantalized the Spanish court with chocolate prepared and presented by a Kekchi Maya delegation of New World natives. Fatherly faith indeed aided in spreading chocolate to new regions of the world, to new religious contexts, and to new appreciation.
As Europeans slowly acquired a taste for it, celebratory chocolate enhanced many Christian settings. Church leaders depended on chocolate for physical, economic, and spiritual sustenance. Eventually the chocolate appetites of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century Christian religious enrobed many members of the Church in the Old World. For them, chocolate became an instrument of adulation, an offering for the greater glory of God. In Spain, monks made chocolate, drank it in secret, and hoarded their supplies and recipes. The Cistercians at the monastery at Poblet in Spain designated a special room for chocolate drinking. Early chocolate adopter Alphonse de Richelieu (b. 1585), cardinal of Paris, first tasted chocolate, when his protégé Cardinal Mazarin brought a personal chocolate maker with him from Italy. In 1634 Mexican Jesuits were shipping chocolate to their brothers in Rome by way of Seville. For his submission to a poetry contest honoring the seventh birthday of King Charles II, a Carmelite friar referred to chocolate as “that inspirational Ambrosia.” Jesuit Father Roberti treated himself to a drink of what he called the “Mexican nectar” at his morning meal. He also sought inspiration from a bowl of chocolate when writing.
Back in the New World chocolate provided good road food as the church extended its mission to California along the El Camino Real of twenty-one missions. When Franciscan Father Junípero Serra left Spain for his duties in the New World, he nestled chocolate in his personal belongings. Storms required his ship to make port at Puerto Rico and a local mission there provided sustenance in the form of chocolate. Serra reported: “For eighteen days we ate better than in any convent, all drinking chocolate every day.”
We honor these fathers, actually all fathers, whether religious or not, with chocolate.
This has been cross posted from the Huffington Post.
Recipe for Mendiants:
Many fine chocolatiers today make delicacies called mendiants. These immortalize the mendicant (beggar) orders–Augustinians, Carmelites, Dominicans, and Franciscans–those that serve the poor and rely only on donations for support. Each nut and dried fruit in the mendiant symbolizes the color of the respective monastic robes: raisins for Dominicans, hazelnuts for Augustinians, dried figs for Franciscans, and almonds for Carmelites.
• 4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
• 1⁄4 cup cocoa nibs, almonds, or hazelnuts
• 1⁄4 cup candied ginger
• 1⁄4 cup dried blueberries or raisins
• 1⁄4 cup candied orange peel
1. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
2. In a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stir the chocolate until melted.
3. Remove the chocolate from the heat.
4. Drop tablespoonfuls of chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet, using the back of the spoon to flatten into disks.
5. Place one of each of the four toppings onto each circle.
6. Work a few medallions at a time; they will harden as they cool.
7. Cool on the baking sheet until hardened.
8. Store in a cool place in a covered container.
Book Optioned: Museum Exhibit
Excerpted from my remarks at Opening Night at Temple Emanu-El, NYC, October 20, 2017: Some people have books optioned for movies. I am so delighted that my book, On the Chocolate Trail (2nd Edition, 2017) has become a museum exhibit… Thank you, Warren Klein, for your professionalism, creativity and collegiality in creating Semite Sweet, which displays someRead more ›
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Media attention, popular culture, audience questions, growing consumer awareness, and changes in the chocolate world sparked the new material in this second edition of On the Chocolate Trail. I am happy to offer up a totally new chapter, “Gods in My Chocolate,” which explores twenty-first-century controversies about deities formed from chocolate. While chocolate generallyRead more ›
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A stunning number of exhibits about chocolate, mostly on the East Coast, captured our attention in the last six months. Mark and I had the opportunity to visit three very different exhibits, what I call #3, 4 & 5. I reviewed the exhibit (#1) at Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA), where I was honored toRead more ›
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Just as the Detroit Institute of Arts closes its wonderful Bitter|Sweet display of chocolate, coffee and tea, no need to despair. New York offers three additional exhibits. Setting aside the wondrous and elegant chocolate shops, at least three local museums currently exhibit artifacts related to the history and consumption of chocolate. For now, the newRead more ›
Some Previous Posts
(in alphabetical order)
- Adventures On the Chocolate Trail: Atlanta, Portland, Seattle
- Anschluss Launches Bartons Passover Favorites 77 Years Ago
- Bat Mitzvah Wants Fair Trade Israeli Chocolate
- Bringing Buckeye Candy to Experts
- Chocolate Expo
- Chocolate Made My Lunch: Nashville
- Chocolate, Coffee, Tea and Me
- Election 2016: Winning Fudge Brigadeiros
- Fathering Chocolate
- Hunting for Chocolate: Fancy Food Show, NYC, 2016
- Labor Day in our Chocolate
- Local Chocolate in the South
- Minding Our Chocolate
- No End to Chocolate Exhibits Part III: Visits #3, 4 & 5
- Of Chocolate Exhibits There is No End: Part 2
- On the Chocolate Trail in Brooklyn
- Seriously Tasting Chocolate
- Super Food Chocolate for Super Bowl Sunday: Three Recipes
- Ten Teaspoons of Sugar in My Chocolate?
- That Time Jews Smuggled Chocolate to France — and a Recipe for Basque Chocolate Cake