My uncle-in-law from Chicago, Illinois is here in Belgium now. He is not a novice when it comes to Europe. He lived in The Netherlands for couple years and he toured all over Europe due to his work purpose for the past few decades. We went to Brussels city center in Grand Place past weekend and took him to “Museum of Cocoa and Chocolates” which was our first time too. After all, you can’t leave Belgium without knowing the history of chocolate and why it’s so popular in Belgium, right?
It’s a cozy museum with few levels to explore. We saw man demonstrating how chocolate shells are made with different types of fillings and making of variety shapes of chocolates that we see in the stores beginning of the tour. At the end of the demonstration we got a chance to actually taste some of those heavenly dark chocolates with chocolate ganache inside.
It was a fun and educational museum for all of us. I wanted to share some facts on chocolates, especially Belgian chocolates from that museum.
1) Thousands of years ago, Mayas and Aztecs were first to cultivate cocoa trees in Central and South America.
2) For Europeans, the history of cocoa begins in 1502, the fourth voyage of Christopher Columbus to America.
3) First trace of chocolate in Belgium dates back to 1635 in the City of Gent.
4) In 1912, Jean Neuhaus (alchemist) invented first bite sized filled chocolate, named pralines.
5) Europe alone consumes 50% of all chocolate production.
6) Ivory Coast is the number one cocoa producing country.
7) Belgian chocolate uses 100% cocoa butter, instead of vegetable fats. That’s why the quality of Belgian chocolate is appreciated through the world.
8) Cocoa contains components that stimulate both mind and body.
9) 30 grams of dark chocolates bring 22% of daily intake recommended magnesium for an adult and 23% of iron.
10) The fruit of the cocoa tree is called “Pod” and this pod-like fruit contains 30 – 40 beans embedded in a pulp.
11) Chocolate is delivered in 3 forms: drops or “callets”, 5 kilos tablets, and liquid.