The True History of Chocolate

The True History of Chocolate

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by Sophie D. Coe, Michael D. Coe
     
 

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Theobroma cacao . . . "the food of the gods." Delicious indulgence or cause of migraine headaches? Aphrodisiac or medicinal tonic? Religious symbol or Mesoamerican currency? This delightful story of one of the world's favorite foods draws upon botany, archaeology, socioeconomics, and culinary history to clear up the ambiguities and minconceptions, presenting for the…  See more details below

Overview

Theobroma cacao . . . "the food of the gods." Delicious indulgence or cause of migraine headaches? Aphrodisiac or medicinal tonic? Religious symbol or Mesoamerican currency? This delightful story of one of the world's favorite foods draws upon botany, archaeology, socioeconomics, and culinary history to clear up the ambiguities and minconceptions, presenting for the first time a complete and accurate history of chocolate. 100 illustrations, 15 in color.

Editorial Reviews

KLIATT
A poster from the 19th century advertising Cadbury's cocoa proclaims it "makes strong men stronger" and a poster from a few decades later states that "Hershey's Milk Chocolate [makes] a meal in itself." These sentiments are dear to any chocoholic and enough to bring indigestion to any dietician. The True Story of Chocolate is, however, much more than superficial posters or cute anecdotes about this most popular of sweets. It is an in-depth history of a New World food, its influence on its conquerors and their civilization and its evolution as a part of our diet. Chocolate has at various times been regarded as medicinal, dangerous and heavenly. As science and industry changed, so did the way that chocolate was produced and delivered. (Its main form centuries ago was as a drink). Details on the cacao plant (which is very difficult to grow) and on the earliest history of the plant grown by the ancient Maya are also included. It is difficult to imagine a more comprehensive book on this subject. True chocoholics, food historians and literary gourmets will find this a fascinating read. The authors—she an anthropologist and food historian and he an anthropologist with a specialty in the Maya—have done a most thorough job of researching a food we are both fixated with and take for granted. Reader will find out things about chocolate they never would have dreamed of. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 1996, Thames & Hudson, 280p, illus, notes, bibliog, index, 24cm, 95-61824, $18.95. Ages 16 to adult. Reviewer: Katherine E. Gillen; Libn., Luke AFB Lib., AZ January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
Kirkus Reviews
The late anthropologist Sophie Coe, who was assisted by her husband, an authority on pre-Columbian civilizations, in the writing of the book, took her culinary history seriously, thank you: This is no chat-fest presented for the benefit of Godiva- gobblers.

Instead, the Coes track a prudent and punctilious path through chocolate's beginnings in ancient Meso-America; its transformation during the age of empire and Spanish colonization; its dispersal across Europe; and chocolate's more recent incarnation at "Hershey, the Chocolate Town," a Disney-esque, sweet-toothed theme park in Hershey, Penn., and headquarters of one of the world's leading chocolate manufacturers. Along the way, readers learn about the chemistry of chocolate and survey sundry recipes; appreciate its many ethnic varieties (the Aztecs preferred theirs mixed with ground chilies, "anywhere from mildly pungent to extremely hot"); and probe its social symbolism, first for elites, and now for the rest of us. Drawbacks of the Coes' approach include a plethora of detail, some of it unnecessarily dry, and excessive stretches of information unrelieved by humanizing anecdote. But the lore they offer also includes pleasantly bemusing facts and speculations, such as those surrounding chocolate's etymology. Called "cacahuatl" for a time by Spaniards who encountered it in the New World, the word—and the substance—may have actually raised their hackles: "It is hard to believe that the Spaniards were not thoroughly uncomfortable with a noun beginning with caca to describe a thick, dark brown drink which they had begun to appreciate. They desperately needed some other word."

A carefully researched biography of chocolate as a pleasure and a product.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780500286968
Publisher:
Thames & Hudson
Publication date:
10/29/2007
Edition description:
Second Edition
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

Sophie D. Coe was an anthropologist and food historian. Her book America's First Cuisines was published in 1994 to universal acclaim.

Michael D. Coe is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University. His books include The Maya, Mexico, Breaking the Maya Code, Angkor and the Khmer Civilization, andReading the Maya Glyphs. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

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