If you will be in southern California between now and the 13th of March 2013, you may want to stop by theNAT in San Diego for a look at chocolate’s storied history.
The San Diego Natural History Museum is offering up a heaping spoonful of chocolate for all ages with the return of the Chocolate Exhibition, seven years past its first showing. It’s an in-depth look at chocolate through the ages, with plenty to not only see, but taste as you journey through the intriguing past of the cocoa bean.
The exhibit will allow visitors to explore the full history of chocolate, beginning with its rather less tasty origin as an ancient Mayan medicinal beverage. From there things get decidedly more decadent, but there are many stops along the way that reveal the great tale of chocolate as more than just a tasty treat.
There was a time when the cocoa bean was so valuable that it was used as a form of currency, as was common in Mesoamerica prior to the Spanish conquest hundreds of years ago. In that time chocolate was still more often a beverage than a food, consumed by great people such as the emperor Moctezuma II, who is himself said to have enjoyed at least 50 portions every single day.
It’s as much an educational experience as it is one of sheer curiosity. Visitors to theNAT will learn a great deal about chocolate’s medicinal uses, as well as modern day health benefits and concerns. A little bit of chocolate is actually quite good for your heart, and that knowledge is great to have when you’re trying to excuse a midnight craving.
The exhibit also looks at chocolate as a business, from its roots up to the present day. The economics and the politics of chocolate are every bit as fascinating as its products are delicious, and the cocoa bean has had a profound impact in parts of the world. In addition, there is a focus on ecology and agriculture, which allows visitors to really learn about the plant itself and come to understand chocolate quite literally from the ground up.
If you’re already salivating just to think of it, you should be sated by the wide array of chocolate available for purchase at the museum’s gift shop, featuring delicious treats from all corners of the world. The exhibit is in part sponsored by Chuao Chocolatier, who are celebrating their tenth anniversary with many new chocolate specialties in their artisan chocolate shops.
Admission runs between $11 and $17, and even though that doesn’t cover your trip to the gift shop it’s a great price for an afternoon spent fully immersed in the world of chocolate.