Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Early history of chocolate drinks in Italy

Chocolate has been used in drinks for nearly 4000 years. Chocolate arrived in Europe during the 1500s, likely brought by both Spanish friars and conquistadors who had traveled to the Americas.

Italy's first association with chocolate dates back to the fourth voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1502, when he traveled along the coast of Central America and tasted a drink made from the cacao bean.

Francesco d'Antonio Carletti (1573 – 1636), a Florentine merchant, explorer and writer, was the first to introduce chocolate to Italy. Traveling to South America, Carletti found the cocoa, documented its processing, and then brought its seeds to Florence. After it was introduced to Italy, it spread fast, and most countries started producing chocolates.

In 1606, chocolate was produced in Italy—first in Florence, then in Venice and Turin. The playwright Goldoni, mentions chocolate in his comedies repeatedly, a testament to the popularity of this delight.

In his book History of the New World, Girolamo Benzoni (1518-1570), a historian and Milanese native who spent fifteen years in the New World, described the chocolate drink offered to him by the natives as: “somewhat bitter, it satisfies and refreshes the body, but does not inebriate.”

Francesco Redi (1626-1697), an acclaimed scientist also physician to Cosimo III de’ Medici, developed numerous recipes for flavoring drinking chocolate with fragrant flowers and scents. Cosimo III de' Medici was known to offer a cup of the new delicious drink—hot chocolate—to foreign diplomats.

By 1678, a chef in Turin (Piedmont), Giovanni Antonio Ari, was selling a chocolate drink, called ‘bavareisa’; and in 1763, ‘bicerin’ - a hot drink made from chocolate, coffee and milk -- was being sold in Turin at Caffè al Bicerin.

Italians are responsible for the invention of many chocolate dishes, among them chocolate dessert soup, chocolate custard, and even chocolate sorbet, which was created in Naples in the mid-1700s. They were also the first to combine chocolate with coffee, in both cakes and drinks.
Early history of chocolate drinks in Italy

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