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A Man Scraping Chocolate: Chocolate, cioccolata, chocolat

July 21, 2010

Unknown, A Man Scraping Chocolate,  c 1750-1800, Spanish. Oil on canvas. 104.1 x 71.1 cm. Courtesy  of the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh (http://ncartmuseum.org); gift of Mr and Mrs Benjamin Cone.

A Man Scraping Chocolate, c 1750-1800, Spanish. Oil on canvas. (from jama.ama-assn.org)

“Chocolate, cioccolata, chocolat: even the words roll deliciously off the tongue. Ingredients such as flavonoids, catechins, serotonin, and phenylethylamines promise scientific effects and physiologic mechanisms to explain the time-tested fascination with chocolate. However, true chocolate lovers seek the luxurious melting sweetness from their treasure, not biochemical properties.

Swedish botanist Carl von Linne (Linnaeus) bestowed on the cacao plant the name Theobroma cacao, food of the gods. The cacao tree bears fruit in pods that spring from large branches or the trunk of the tree. Known as cauliflory, this surprised the Spanish colonialists because fruit of the Old World sprouts from terminal branches. The pods contain not only the seeds, more properly known as cacao

JAMA. 2002;287:2466.

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