France is famous for many things, such as the Eiffel Tower, and high fashion. They are also famous for their rich cuisine such as crepes and quiche lorraine. They are well noted for their pastries, wine and of course, French chocolate.
Chocolate has been around for centuries, beginning in 1500 BC where the Olmec Indians grew crops containing the cocoa bean. From there it went to the Mayans where only the wealthiest were allowed to consume it. In 600 AD they established plantations dedicated to the coveted bean and from there, the Aztec elite took it over.
The popularity of liquid chocolate continued to spread and the famous explorer, Christopher Columbus brought it back with him to Spain in 1502. The Spaniards added sugar to it, which enhanced its flavor and removed the bitterness from it. Oddly, when it reached France, it was scorned and called a “barbarous” and “noxious”. It was Anne of Austria and King Louis XIII that adopted it as the favored drink of the French court which was the beginning of its popularity in France. Chocolate became known as an aphrodisiac in France. It was used by Casanova to seduce women. He would add it to champagne and then present it to his lovers. Madame De Pompador would also serve it to her lovers to energize them before seducing them. Chocolate was also used for intrigue by the Marquis du Sade. He would add poison to it and then give it to those he wished to harm.
The supply of cocoa beans to France increased after they conquered Haiti and Cuba in 1684. It was then that they first established plantations. In 1657 a Frenchman opened the first chocolate shop in London, where it was so expensive that only wealthy people could hope to afford it. A Frenchman named Doret discovered how to grind the beans and invented a hydraulic press for this purpose, circa 1778. This was the beginning of the chocolate production on a grand scale.
Between World Wars I and II, the French became famous for chocolate pralines.Many people consider French Chocolate to be the best in the world. Its rich smooth flavor is internationally famous and it is coveted by all who love this confection. The French are famous for their chocolate candies such as truffles and nonpareils, which means “without equal”. They put it in scrumptious pastries, cakes and puddings. One of their most famous deserts that feature chocolate is the French eclair. Another favorite is chocolate mousse. There’s nothing like the rich aroma that emanates from a French bakery. Few can resist entering them once they catch the scent and are lured inside where they can find a wide array of treats that feature chocolate.