Stuff of Dreams, n. 3: chocolatière

chocolate pot, manufacture des Terres de Bordes, France, late 18th century, part of an 11-piece ensemble that includes a tea pot, a coffee pot, 6 cups with saucers, and two plates 

Chocolate in 18th century was an exotic drink for aristocrats and wealthy bourgeois. Like its sisters, coffee and tea, and every food and drink in the 18th century, it had its own pot. In the court of Louis XV, it was considered an aphrodisiac. He liked it so much that he had a room specifically for making his own coffee and chocolate for himself and his friends in the Petits Appartements in Versailles.

Here’s a recipe for chocolate from Menon’s Les Soupers de la Cour ou l’Art de travailler toutes sortes d’aliments pour servir les meilleurs tables suivant les quatre saisons (1755):

“Put as many tablets of chocolate as cups of water in a pot and boil it until they meld together; when you are ready to servie it, divide an egg yolk into four and stir it over a low heat without boiling it … Instead of an egg yolk, you can put the whipped egg white with the foam removed, dilute it in a little bit of chocolate in the pot and serve it like the version with the egg yolk.”

Denis Diderot provides a recipe for chocolate that is more similar to the hot chocolate we drink today in the entry “chocolat” in the Encyclopédie: “When the cacao paste has been finely crushed on the stone, sugar which has been sifted through a silk sieve is added; the correct proportion of cacao and sugar is equal parts of both … The sugar having been well mixed into the cacao paste, one adds a very fine powder made from vanilla seeds and cinnamon sticks finely cut and sifted together.”

Chocolate with sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon? Yes, please.

 Boucher imagines for us a scene of breakfast with chocolate, about to be served in the chocolatière in the very center of the painting:

François Boucher, Le Déjeuner, 1739, Musée du Louvre

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