I have another reason for adoring the Italian culture – they have given me historical justification for the relationship between women and chocolate.
As part of the Terra Madre conference in Torino, Italy, which took place last week, I had the opportunity to connect with a bounty of chocolate artisans.
Chocolate is an important part of the culture of Torino – with local “creatore del cioccolato” boasting ties to the royals of the 19th century. The finest cacao, cream, and sugar are crafted using techniques and recipes being passed down over centuries.
The story goes something like this. In the 17th century a “lady” would never enter a coffee shop as it was considered taboo for a woman to drink coffee. Personally, I think it's because the guys just wanted to talk sports and smoke cigars. The idea was that coffee was too “stimulating” for women. The solution was chocolate. Not any chocolate mind you, but a warm, rich, velvety, melted chocolate to drink and savor.
I find it ironic that this “ciocolata calda” arose as a less-stimulating alternative to coffee, as chocolate is an icon of sensuality. It seems like the “ladies” of the 17th century knew something they thought best kept to themselves, and thus have provided me with a reason to boast why I crave chocolate—it’s ladylike. Chalk one up for the gals.