If you’re looking for a unique Easter gift for someone who, like me, cannot get enough of the delectable cocoa stuff, then pick up The True History of Chocolate from Thames & Hudson this week. Lets not judge books by their covers, but also – let’s marvel at the pastel blue and gold cuteness of this paperback, it goes with Cadbury’s Mini Eggs so well. Not that I usually accessorise books, but I defy any chocolate lover to read this without wanting to crack open the Easter stash immediately.
Sophie and Michael Coe take us on a journey through chocolate’s humble beginnings in ancient times (including photos of Mesoamerican hot-chocolate mugs) through early Central America where chocolate was (and still is imo) a gift from the gods, and up to eighteenth century European chocolate parties (yes!) and the nineteenth and twentieth century production and marketing of the sweet stuff to the masses. This is such an interesting read – as well as following chocolate’s journey to becoming a worldwide mega-star, I learnt things about the Aztecs and how they used cocoa in rituals, how different cultures embraced the discovery of chocolate, and the origins of British chocolate powerhouses (Fry’s, Cadbury’s and Rowntree’s) in the Victorian era. The theme of capitalism runs throughout; how primitive crops and rituals are appropriated and commercialised, and there’s also global politics and ownership struggles at play. Told engagingly with colour photos and prints, this is a beautiful book for anyone interested in how chocolate got to be one of the world’s most popular food stuffs, and is perfect for an Easter weekend read with a chocolate egg or three.