Chocolate. They say enough of it causes the same chemical reaction as being in love. No wonder there are so many choco-holics.
Last week, I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the sweet treat that is Chocolate: The Exhibition. Developed by The Field Museum in Chicago, it opened on Saturday at the Muzeo in Anaheim and traces the origin of chocolate from the rain forests of Central America to the fun-sized sugar-laden candy bars we give to children on Halloween.
The exhibit opens in the rain forest of the Mayan empire 1,500 years ago, progresses into its use as currency in pre-Hispanic Mexico, then moves east to Europe where sugar was introduced and turned chocolate into the "mass-produced world commodity" we know it as today.
A kid-friendly setup, it even has a mock Aztec store where kids can budget their cacao beans to buy tomatoes and peppers.
Out near the gift shop, there's a chocolate bar where one can taste 99% pure dark chocolate—but only if you agree to have your reaction video-recorded. Having never been a fan of dark chocolate (I prefer my cancer-killing flavonoids from red wine), I figured it couldn't be that bad, right?
You'll have to try it for yourself.
The chocolate tasting bar also has other single-origin varieties from Ecuador, the "homeland of the unique 'Arriba' beans." Ranging from 67% to 85% cacao solids, I was surprised that the 85% was actually my favorite. Go figure. I'd always been a milk chocolate kind of girl. But I came home with a little bag (seen above) of 3 different types: 67% from El Oro region, and two of 75% from Manabi and Los Rios. Interestingly enough, I preferred the Los Rios chocolate over its coastal cousin. It's a bit sweeter to the Manabi's hint of spice.
The exhibit runs through September 11, 2011. There are even special events on select Fridays and Saturdays throughout the summer, including a Chocolate & Bubbles Happy Hour (presented by The Catch Restaurant on Friday, July 15) and a The Chocolate Day Spa featuring spa services and wine (Friday, July 29).
The museum was nice enough to give away some buy-one-get-one free tickets. Admission for adults is $13, so take a friend and it's only $6.50 each! First 3 people to comment can have them. You must be able to get to Anaheim before the exhibit closes and agree to be added to their mailing list.
For more information, check www.muzeo.org.