We weren't married long before I started noticing (like, on our honeymoon) how fixated he can get on things I just considered as passing fancies. For instance, we went to one of the most beautiful places on earth (Cancun and its environs), where I wanted to sit on beaches with books and ride Vespas and drink watermelon juice (life-changing) and do "other stuff" for the majority of the time. But noooooooo.... SOMEONE grew up visiting "national parks" and appreciating things like "historic sites" and "ancient ruins." Blah. Which meant I was being dragged along.
So since then, I have tended to shy away whenever Ted has approached me with the ol' "wanna go to a museum?" line (and trust me, it has been uttered often). This last time, though, was the biggest and best exception to my usual half-hearted consent. The museum in Raleigh had an exhibit on CHOCOLATE. I practically dragged him out of the apartment.
See how excited we all are to be there? It was a win-win. Ted got to go to his little museum and I got to drool on myself.
The exhibit was put together very well, but it wasn't very hands-on for the amount of children they had going through there. I didn't care about that very much, since Tessa's main activity was drooling right next to me. And considering how much I already knew about chocolate, like the fact that it's brown and to die for, I was surprised to find out how much I didn't know. Here's a quick run-through of fun facts.
- Cacao trees thrive in tropical climates (which I knew), but have to be planted underneath a taller tree because they need the shade (which I didn't).
- West Africa, specifically the Cote d'Ivoire, is the largest grower of cacao trees. I thought that title was taken by Central and South America, but I was WRONG!
- Cocoa beans used to be the Aztecs' form of money.
- The first use of actual chocolate was as a drink, but it wasn't like our hot chocolate or chocolate milk of today. The beans are quite bitter, so they would roast them and add chilies and spices and throw it back.
- Once chocolate became a European import, people went crazy for it (obviously). However, it was so expensive that only royalty and the very rich could afford it. In fact, it was often enjoyed while lying naked in bed. Funny. That's my favorite method, too.
The above image was displayed at the museum, but there was no name or artist, so I had all these grand plans to reproduce it in our living room to give you an idea of what it looked like, complete with the overturned chair. But I'm glad I found it online instead, because my nipples don't look nearly that good.
Besides the multiple videos of huge vats of molten chocolate getting conched and tempered and mixed and formed (think the opening montage of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the original. Best opening sequence in a movie EVER), my favorite part of the display were the old advertisements from some of the first major manufacturers, namely Hershey, Ghirardelli, and Cadbury (pronounced "CAD-bree"). I've included some samples. Make sure you read all the fine print.
"You NEED a Baby Ruth! It offers dextrose, for crying out loud! You don't want to fall asleep on the road, do you???"
Ahhh... someone already though of it for me. Two of my favorite foods, combined. And it was pretty tasty!
Tessa was a gem the whole time because she is a fellow foodie. Toward the end of the tour, we spotted these little ottomans one could sit on while watching videos of people talking about how much they loved chocolate. They offered the perfect photo-op. Can someone please tell me where I can buy one of these? I need one. Or four.
The end of the tour spit us out into a chocolate shop (fitting!) because naturally, we're going to want to eat chocolate after looking at it for over an hour. I wonder if Jesus Himself would have been able to resist such temptation.
They had all sorts of scrumptious treats, so we selected wisely. In case you're wondering if cashews and dried cranberries enrobed in caramel and dipped in chocolate are good, um, they are. They even had kids' books on display, so I flipped through a few of them and Ted and I had a conversation that went like this:
me: We need these.
me: For Tessa.
Ted: So she can get as addicted as you?
me: Are you kidding me? I grew up never knowing the fine heritage of my favorite food group. Do you want her to grow up as ignorant and potentially hooked as I did? Maybe if she learns about it from a young age, she won't crave it. Knowledge is power, sweetie.
Ted: That was the biggest load of crap. Whatever. You can get them.
me: I was going to anyway.
See? Compromise is the name of the game in a marriage. So next time he wants to haul me off to some explore-our-wilderness-and-gain-an-appreciation-for-it-already state park, all he has to do is stuff a Reese's in his pants and I'm good to go.
AND NOW, ON TO THE GOOD STUFF.
I know how hard it must have been to read through that entire post with no food of the gods to partake of. So I'm going to have my very first giveaway.
It's been about 10 years since I've made truffles or chocolates, but I've been wanting some ever since I found out there isn't a See's candy within a 100-mile radius of me. What's a girl to do?!? Well, make her own, of course, and one of you will get to benefit as well.
I will overnight a box of homemade chocolates to a name drawn from the pool of individuals who comment on this post, telling me what chocolate does for you. You can leave comments until Friday, Oct 9 at midnight (Pacific time). I'll announce the winner on the blog, and she (or he) should have the chocolate by the following Tuesday morning.
So leave a comment, and be creative!