Places to visit

Chocolate & sweets

Spanish chocolate
The Spanish brought chocolate to Europe when they conquered South America in the 16th century. The Aztecs had grown cocao beans, and used them as a stimulating drink.

New crops
In the same period, the Spanish also brought other new foodstuffs: tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, and turkeys....

Many of these could be grown in the cooler climate of Europe, but not cocoa. This had to be brought by ship across the Atlantic, so remained an expensive luxury.

A bitter drink
Drinking quite bitter cups of chocolate bacame fashionable in the Spanish court - and amongst wealthy people across the Spanish empire, which included Belgium and most of what is now northern France.

British chocolate
When the taste for chocolate came to Britain, chocolate bars and sweets were made in factories with much more milk and fats added to the cocoa. In north France, Belgium and most of Europe, chocolate sweets continued to be made with a very high cocoa content - so taste bitter compared with the British variety....


Places to visit:
Les Chocolats de Beussant - small workshop hand-making a regional speciality.
Gayantines of Douai - local sweets and chocolate

Related background information
Sugar-beet farming & sweets
History of Flanders

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