Friday, January 6, 2017

Chocolate, Elixir of the Gods

The morning chocolate by Pietro Longhi; Venice, 1775–1780
Well, this is all very nice about chocolate, but, unfortunately, our presenter for this Saturday's meeting has had to cancel. So:


Marie Sprayberry will be presenting her talk from the recent AGM, a fascinating look at the Prince Regent.

“The General, between his cocoa and his newspaper, had luckily no leisure for noticing her; but to the other two her distress was equally visible.” Northanger Abbey chapter 25

In her novels Jane Austen makes only one mention of chocolate in the form of cocoa. In the quote at the top of this article, Catherine Morland has just received a letter from her brother telling her that he has broken off his engagement with Isabella because of Frederick Tilney. Catherine is understandably upset, but must proceed into breakfast with the Tilneys with tears in her eyes and on her cheeks. The General is oblivious, calmly drinking cocoa and reading his newspaper.

With the imagery of cocoa and the newspaper Jane Austen makes clear just how detached General Tilney is from his family and guest. He is more interested in a morning beverage and the news from afar than he is in a tearful guest.

Cocoa as a beverage was well established in Regency England, although Jane Austen only mentions it this one time. For comparison she mentions tea approximately 72 times, coffee about 10 times and wine about 28 times. It is interesting that we find the General sipping cocoa rather than tea or coffee. I would be interested in hearing any ideas on why Jane Austen chose cocoa in this instance.

The history of chocolate, from its origins in the New World to our present love affair, is an intriguing subject. At our January meeting JASNA CWNY will host a talk on the history of chocolate by Peggy Roll from the Genesee Country Village and Museum. Come and learn how this somewhat bitter seed developed into such a well-loved treat (or major food group depending on one’s inclination.) Here are the details:

Event:       JASNA CWNY January Meeting
When:      Saturday, January 21, 2017 at 1 pm

Topic:       The History of Chocolate
                    A talk by Peggy Roll from the Genesee Country Village and Museum
                  First Baptist Church of Rochester, 175 Allens Creek Road,
                 Classrooms 9 and 11
Cost:        $5 for JASNA National members, $7 for non-members
                  Exact change required

New Topic:     Marie Sprayberry presenting her AGM talk on the Prince Regent
New Where:   Pittsford Barnes and Noble, Community Room

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