Welcome back to A - Z 2020.
Switzerland is known for cheese, chocolate, money and watches. I will be talking about cheese in episode F is for Fondue, so today it's all about chocolate. How about some (fun) facts to kick this off?
- To all the people who are preaching that chocolate is bad for us: it grows on a tree, you guys, which makes it a fruit - you're welcome!
- The cacao bean is native to Mexico where it has been cultivated from 1250 BC.
- Today, nearly 70% of the world's supply comes from West Africa. The Ivory Coast is the largest single producer, providing about 30% of all the world's cacao.
- The Aztecs used cacao beans as a currency because it was so valuable to them.
- It takes four to five years for a cacao tree to produce its first beans.
- A cacao tree produces about 2,500 beans. The plants' life span in terms of producing viable beans is only 25 years. The tree will live on for another 170 years.
- It takes 400 beans to make a pound of chocolate.
- Chocolate has over 600 flavor compounds (as a comparison: red wine has 200)
- While British confectioners produced a treat by combining cacao butter, sugar and liquor, the Swiss invented what is known as milk chocolate in 1875.
- Just like coffee beans, there are two kinds of cacao beans: easy to plant Forastero beans, and tasty, but more delicate to grow Crillo beans.
- The average Swiss, British or German person eats 11kg (24 pounds) of chocolate a year.
- More than twice as many women than mean crave and eat chocolate.
- Shout out to our competition, Belgium: Brussels Airport is the world's biggest chocolate seller, turning over 800 tons of chocolate a year.
I am a member of a Facebook group for international Moms who live in Switzerland. A popular question of people who just moved here is "which is the best chocolate around here?"
Every decent Swiss supermarket has an entire chocolate aisle (in addition to the candy aisle), so it's easy to become overwhelmed. Of course the comments won't help, because to each their own, and everyone prefers a different variety.
I can tell you which Swiss chocolate is widely popular, but personally I don't like to eat it:
It's hard and sticks to your teeth. But as I was saying, tastes differ.
In addition to generic, but still very respectable chocolate bars (and if I say bar, I am talking about 100g = 3.5 oz) by manufacturers like Cailler, Frey, Bloch or Lindt, there are lots of high end chocolate shops like Sprüngli, Läderach, du Rhône, Max, Auer...
And get this, in times of restaurant and shop lockdown due to Covid 19, some of them are still allowed to keep their business open because obviously it's a life necessity!
Speaking of chocolate. One of the all-time popular kids' birthday games is "chocolate eating" - not sure if it's known beyond the borders. This is how it works:
People sit around the table and roll the dice. The person who has a six grabs the gear and gets to work:
Hat, scarf, shades, gloves...
While the person is getting dressed, the other people keep rolling the dice. As soon as the next person has a six, they will snatch everything off their friend and gear up themselves.
If you're lucky you'll even get to the chocolate. Only that it's wrapped. In two or ten plies of sturdy newspaper plus bound with string. You have to use fork and knive to get it open.
So basically it takes forever until someone actually manages to eat a piece of chocolate. It's great fun. I played it as a kid, and a few years ago we also played it at Colin's 7th birthday party.
As I was saying, every grocery store and gas station convenience shop carries a variety of regular chocolate, but things are getting very interesting before Easter!
So many tasty and decorative chocolate bunnies, ducks and eggs!
To wrap it up, here's a fun personality quiz that'll tell you what chocolate you are. I got Reese's Peanutbutter Cup. The irony! With all the varieties we carry in Switzerland, PB is not one of them!
A blogger friend of mine put together a list of small local businesses who sell chocolate online.
How about you? Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you like chocolate? What is your favorite kind? Have you ever played the chocolate game?
Let me know in the comments below and be sure to come back tomorrow, I'll be talking about democracy in Switzerland.
I'm participating in an additional writing challenge that publishes today, it's called secret subject swap. The prompt I was given was "It's been a long day, and all I want to do is go home and..." - check it out if you like!