Chocolate -- a preparation made from the beans of the cacao plant and used as a flavoring and as an ingredient of beverages and various kinds of delicacies.
Chocolate was first developed by the indigenous Mexican peoples such as the Aztecs, all of whom regarded chocolate and the cacao plant to be a divine gift from theire gods. The Aztecs believed that chocolate had many magical powers, and that it was the source of wisdom and power as well as being an aphrodisiac.
It is said that the Aztec ruler Montezuma drank fifty cups of chocolate a day, usually before visiting his harem.
After the Spanish conquered Mexico, chocolate was inroduced to Europe and as its popularity grew, cacao plantations were set up throughout the new world and later even Africa and Asia.
There was initially a great deal of controversy in Europe about whether chocolate was healthful or harmful and also whether it was a food or a drink (chocolate was initially mostly used as a beverage.) The issue of whether chocolate was food or drink was an important one in Renaissance Europe for religious reasons: if it were a food then it should not be consumed during Lent. But if chocolate were a drink, then it could be consumed at any time. After much debate, involving the great theologians and even various Popes, the religious authorities concluded that although chocolate was nutritious, it was a beverage and therefore there were no restrictions about when it could be consumed.
The jury is still out on whether chocolate is good for you or not, but most chocolate addicts would tend to agree with Doctor Bachot, the physician to Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, who stated:
"Well-made chocolate is such a noble invention that it, rather than nectar and ambrosia, should be known as the food of the gods."
The following are a few tourist attractions and festivals that cater to the chocoholic:
-- located in the lobby of the Candy Basket Chocolate Factory, this is the only chocolate fountain in the world: Over two thousnad pounds of melted chocolate cascade twenty feet over a sculpted marble and bronze fountain. Yummy. Located at: The Candy Basket, 1924 NE 181st Avenue, Portland, Oregon 97230. Telephone: 1-800-864-1924
La Cabosse d'Or Miniature Golf Theme Park -- located in Quebec City, Quebec, this gigantic miniature golf park is all about chocolate: each hole has a different chocolate theme as well as plaques giving information about chocolate written in both French and English. Located at: 973, Ozias Leduc, Oterrburn Park, Quebec, J3G 4S6, Canada. Telephone: 1-800-784-6937.
Hershey Town, USA -- billed as "The Sweetest Place on Earth" this is a world-class theme park with interesting rides and attractions devoted to chocolate. Located at: 19 East Chocolate Avenue, Hershey, PA 17033. Telephone: 1-800-437-7439. Website: http://www.hersheypark.com
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