Oh la la!
French cuisine is well known all over the world for its flavor and creativeness, but a lot of people seem to overlook the excellent French chocolate. However, French chocolate is just as important to the country's culture and history as wine and cheese are.
When chocolate became popular a few centuries ago, it was actually met with skepticism in France, where it was considered to be a barbarous product and a noxious drug. The French court was doubtful about this new product, and it was only accepted after the Paris faculty of medicine gave chocolate its stamp of approval. Then, in 1615, Queen Anne of Austria, wife of Louis XIII, declared chocolate as the drink of the French court. The supply of cocoa beans to the French market greatly improved after 1684, when France conquered Cuba and Haiti and set up their own cocoa plantations.
The French chocolate craze eventually got a strong foothold hold in Paris and then it conquered the rest of the country. Chocolate's well known reputation as an aphrodisiac flourished in the French courts. French art and literature were suddenly overflowing with erotic imagery that was inspired by chocolate. The Marquis de Sade even became proficient at using chocolate to disguise poison and Casanova was famous for using chocolate and champagne to seduce the lovely French ladies.
Some historical moments in chocolate have taken place in France throughout the years. In 1657, the first chocolate house was said to have been opened in London, England by a Frenchman. In 1732, French inventor, Monsieur Dubuisson invented a table mill for grinding chocolate. In 1778, a Parisian invented the first machine that could grind, mix and compress chocolate. Several years later, in 1825, Antoine Brutus Menier built the first mechanized chocolate factory in Noisel-sur-Marne. This marked the debut of the modern chocolate works. In the 1900's, the famous French artist, Henri Toulouse Lautrec is credited with inventing chocolate mousse, which was first referred to as mayonnaise de chocolat.
Today, there are many successful chocolate manufacturers in France and they are producing a wide variety of delicious chocolates including sauces, truffles, chocolate bars, boxed chocolates, gift baskets, cakes, pastries, desserts and drinks. Cocoa Barry was one of the major French chocolate manufacturers and an innovator in chocolate manufacturing and processing. As a result of a global company merger, the company is now named Barry-Callebaut and is one of the largest chocolate manufacturers in the world, producing such chocolates as Sarotti, Gubor, Alpia and Van Houten.