At our April meeting the speaker was Cheryl Brighty from Artistry in Cocoa in Newmarket who came to tell us about the history of chocolate which began in Mesoamerica. The fermented, roasted and ground beans of the Theobroma cacao (cocoa tree) can be traced to the Mokaya and other pre-Olmec peoples with evidence of cacao beverages dating back to 1900BC. The Aztecs are known to have traded with the Mayans using cacao seeds as a form of currency. At this time chocolate was only served as a drink and only high society were allowed to drink it. Its use spread into Mexico, Central and South America by 1400 but was unknown in Europe until the 16th century when it was introduced following the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs. In London the first chocolate house opened in 1657. These became very popular and later developed into gentlemen's clubs. In the 18th century mechanical mills were created that squeezed out the cocoa butter and it is this process that produces the different grades of chocolate that we are familiar with today. Although historically chocolate was only produced in America, today a large amount of the world's cocoa is produced in Western Africa. Following this fascinating glimpse into history, Cheryl then went on to give us a demonstration of chocolate making with hand tempering and dipping. Then the moment we had waited for when we got to sample the chocolates which were wonderful!
There is no speaker at the May meeting as we will be debating the issues addressed in the two NFWI AGM resolutions on local library closures and proposed mega farms. This will be followed by refreshments and glimpses into some members memories.
New members and occasional visitors are always welcome. Come along to a meeting and see if you would like to join our friendly group.