Just hearing the word chocolate puts a smile on our faces. This magical food makes us happy and fills our stomachs.
It’s an indisputable friend when we’re feeling a bit down thanks to the endorphins it releases when we eat it. In fact, it’s so enjoyable that it’s seen as a substitute for sex in the collective imagination.
We find it in thousands of different types of food but true cocoa lovers know not all chocolate is the same. If you’re a chocoholic, keep reading, as we’re going to take a look at some of the best places for specialist chocolate-makers around the world.
The first ‘must’ destination for purists is Mexico, credited as the birthplace of cacao, which was probably discovered by the Mayans who called the drink and the bean xocoatl. Oaxaca is known as ‘the city of chocolate’, and you’ll be amazed by the inebriating rich smell once you arrive in the city.
After its expansion and being brought to Europe, Switzerland was the country that succeeded in mixing cacao with milk in 1875 to create the chocolate we all know and love today, and a few years later the well-known chocolatier Lindt started to sell it melted. Since then, the Swiss have constantly been reinventing this combination and always giving it a touch of glamour, something that is typical of the country’s character.
They are also very fond of their chocolate in Brussels and claim to have over 2000 different ways of making it. Brussels is also home to the largest collection of chocolate figures in the world, including a version of the country’s most famous monument, the Manneken Pis. Praline was also first made in the city in 1912, and you can even sign up for one of the chocolate workshops organised by Artisanale Planete Chocolat, or attend praline and drinking chocolate tasting sessions.
Another big chocolate destination, although perhaps not so well known, is Paris which discovered it in the 17th century when they started to take it as a bitter, spicy drink. It was first thought to be medicinal and so, was sold in pharmacies. In 1901, the French Academy of Chocolate Masters was started, giving an idea of the importance already bestowed on this food. The city’s oldest chocolate shop, À la Mère de Famille, opened in 1761 and sells more than 50 different types of chocolate. The chocolate bar with pumpkin seeds is the most popular.
The city with the biggest concentration of confectioners and chocolate shops in the world is none other than the city of excess, New York. There are many confectionery and chocolate fairs throughout the year, and the city has more than its fair share of shops and cafés specialising in chocolate like the famous Magnolia Bakery, which featured in the TV series, Sex in the City TV.