January 24, 2020

Beer froths into one type of mousse...not the point of this post. "Brasserie" [Brewery], engraved by Robert Benard, in Receuil de Planches, "Brasserie," Plate II, 1763.

If you were royalty, you’d worry about being poisoned. If you believed you were a divine incarnation,...

November 22, 2019

This post asks the question, why don’t Dr. Frankenstein or Count Dracula drink chocolate?

Let’s get this out of the way: Franken Berry and Count Chocula hit the shelves in 1971. While Chocula may have inspired this inquiry, he does not figure into our story.

First, an inv...

March 15, 2019

Yes, American Chocolate Week lasts seven days, March 17-23, 2019. But is it really about America? Or chocolate? It depends on your perspective.

1) 'American' at its etymological root would refer to whatever Amerigo Vespucci was snacking on in Florence circa 1492, which c...

December 7, 2018

Limonadier, ière. Marchand qui vend de la limonade, de la liqueur et plusieurs autres sortes de liqueur, comme eaux de cerises, verjus, groseilles, framboise, du sorbet, de l’orangeade, etc.

–Antoine Furetière, Le Dictionnaire universel, 1690

Merchant who sells hard lemon...

November 15, 2018

Dorothy Shirley and Ann Goodenough’s recipes round out the panoply of inventive applications for and spellings of chocolate in seventeenth-century England.

Their countryman, William Hughes, had compiled a list of ways to write the word back in 1672. Hughes' The American...

November 1, 2018

On a recent trip to the Folger Shakespeare Library, I had the opportunity to read cover-to-cover extant seventeenth-century family recipe books of the English household. The above pages from Margaret Baker's family Receipt Book offer a glimpse into the material fascinat...

October 15, 2018

Codex Medoza, c. 1540. Attributed to Francisco Gualpuyogualcal and to Juan González. Transport method of cacao (next to jaguar skins) under the early Aztec Empire. Public Domain, Bodleian Library, Oxford University.

Bartolomé de Las Casas presents a horrific picture of p...

October 2, 2018

The Coco-Nut Tree, 1739

Penelope Jephson was most famous for having married Simon Patrick, prolific bishop, anti-semite, and controversial “paraphraser” of the Bible from Genesis to Song of Solomon, published in 10 volumes. This epic study would be published alongside ot...

September 1, 2018

Broadside against coffee, one of many from the 1660s and 70s. Houghton Library, Harvard.

The 1660s were a busy decade for writing about chocolate in England and in English. No fewer than 10 broadsides, commentaries, and treatises were published. If people worried about c...

August 15, 2018

Antonio Colmenero de Ledesma. Frontispiece, Chocolata inda,

Trans. Johann Georg Volckamer, Nuremberg: Wolfgangi Enderi, 1644.

Mythologizing has always been one of chocolate’s prime movers in Europe. From the first, it did not suffice to explain the benefits of the cacao...

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