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Life IS history in the making. Every word we say, everything we do becomes history the moment it is said or done. Life void of memories leaves nothing but emptiness. For those who might consider history boring, think again: It is who we are, what we do and why we are here. We are certainly individuals in our thoughts and deeds but we all germinated from seeds planted long, long ago.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Word of the Day: Chocolate

Chocolate. Cho-CO-late. Cho-co-o-o-o-o-late.

Just something about saying the word makes you want some. The slower you say it the more your mouth waters! What is your first thought when you hear or say chocolate: bar, bonbon, box, bunny? There is the  chocolate bar with and without nuts, sweet and semi-sweet, even with toffee, chocolate so creamy it melts in your mouth. The succulent bonbon boasts small confections with a center of fondant, fruit, or nuts enrobed in chocolate, each morsel rich in texture and taste. Then, the best gift ever is the BOX of chocolates in which one might find milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate, smooth truffles, decadent cremes, caramels and luscious chocolate pralines. Of course, one cannot even think about chocolate without the chocolate bunny coming to mind.

How did this delicacy even get its start and what are the best chocolates indeed? Of course, naming the BEST is definitely a matter of taste. Let's look at its origin first and save the best for last.

Embrace the Past. . .

As you pondered first thoughts when you hear the word chocolate, it is possible hot cocoa or chocolate milk came to mind. In fact, it is chocolate in the form of a "drink" that came first, rather than that which you "eat." For most of chocolate's history, it was strictly a beverage—not the hot cocoa or chocolate milk of today and NOT something sweet!

The word, chocolate, traces its origin back to the Aztec word "xocoatl," a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. Cacao refers to the plant or the beans, whereas "chocolate" refers to that which is made from the beans. Mixtures of cacao have been documented in rituals to celebrate, to heal and to savor. Preparations—ceremonial, medicinal, culinarydate back to the Early Formative (1900-900 BC) period. 

Of course, that is simply the skinny behind all there is to know about chocolateJust a few nuggets for you to chew on!

Empower the Present. . .

Calling All Chocoholics
What do you know about the makers and shakers of the chocolate world? Take this quiz from Traveler magazine and find out.

Enrich the Future. . .

Last, but not least. . .National Geographic's

The 10 Best Chocolatiers in the World

1. Teuscher (Zurich, Switzerland)
 Chocolates of Switzerland: Always fresh. Always delicious. Always Teuscher.

2. Vosges Haut-Chocolat (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
An Experiential Realm of Storytelling: Travel the World Through Chocolate

3. Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, Inc. (Berkeley, California, USA)
 America's Most Flavorful Chocolate: Perfectly Crafted Chocolate

4. Jacques Torres Chocolate (New York, New York, USA)
 The World's Best Chocolate: Twelve Months of Chocolate Heaven

5. Norman Love Confections (Ft. Myers, Florida, USA)
 Gourmet Chocolate Selections: Artistry in Chocolate

6. Valrhona (France)
En Savior Plus: Aux Sources Du Grand Chocolat

7. Godiva Chocolatier (Brussels, Belgium and worldwide)
Prestigious Chocolate: Legendary Passion for Chocolate

8. Richard Donnelly Fine Chocolates (Santa Cruz, California, USA)
 Intense Chocolate: Handmade, Award Winning Chocolate

9. Richart (Paris, France)
 French Gourmet Chocolates: Luxury Chocolates, Created with Passion

10. Puccini Bomboni (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
Smooth Silkiness without Sugar, without Butter: Eat with your Eyes
Remember. . .

How many of the ten best have you tried? Of any chocolates, what is your favorite?