Saturday, March 29, 2014

Swiss artist Jean-Etienne Liotard 1702-1789 either adored chocolate or the chocolate serving girl

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789)  The Chocolate Girl 1743

Food historian Patricia Bixler Reber tells us in her blog Researching Food History - Cooking and Dining, that chocolate is made from the seeds of the cacao tree.  Seed pods were picked, opened, & fermented for a few days, as they dried.  In the 18th-century, the beans were roasted in a pan, pot, or roaster on the hearth.  The shells were removed leaving the usable chocolate "nibs."  The nibs were ground down into a paste by using a stone or steel metate & mano or in a choclate mill.   Further grinding, conching, resulted in a smooth texture.

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789)  Madame Liotard and her Daughter

Marylander Pat Reber shared 2 primary sources from the 1700s explaining chocolate preparation.  "The Cacao...a Seed...when they have been divested of their Shells by Fire, and are afterwards peeled, and roasted in a Bason, before a moderate Fire, they are pounded in a very hot Mortar. The Americans bruise them with an Iron Cylinder, on a flat Stone made very hot; they are then formed into a Paste, which is afterwards boiled with Sugar; and this is called plain Chocolate. But if it is to be enriched with a fine Odour, four Pounds of this Paste, and three of powdered Sugar, are worked together in a Mortar, or on some Stone..."  (Spectacle de la Nature. Noël Antoine Pluche. 1766)

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss artist, 1702-1789)  Le Petit Déjeuner

"The Cacao seeds are roasted like coffee...When the kernels are perfectly purified, they are pounded in a mortar of heated iron over burning charcoal, and thus reduced to a coarse paste, which is set to cool on a marble slab. A second rolling is bestowed with a steel cylinder on a smooth freestone, and as soon as the paste becomes sufficiently smooth, it is mixed with sugar in a hot basin and poured into tin moulds..."  (The Encyclopædia of Geography, Hugh Murray. Phila: 1837)

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) La Chocolatiere c 1744

Jean-Etienne Liotard (Swiss-French artist, 1702-1789) La Chocolatiere