Fri | Jun 5, 2020

Tony Deyal | Hot chocolate and Seville service

Published:Thursday | August 9, 2018 | 12:00 AM is one of my favourite regional sites. Like the Barbados Nation and the Jamaica Gleaner, it keeps me in touch with the Caribbean - my workplace, birthplace and stamping ground.

This week, though, it lapsed badly, and on the subject of the Top 10 Jamaican Historic Moments, it lost a stripe. Where did it go wrong? After all, it did include Martin Luther King's 1965 visit, which was followed by Emperor Haile Selassie's in 1966, Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 and the national bobsled team in the same year.

Up to that point, it was cool runnings, and it even continued on the right track with Nelson Mandela in 1991. It was still on record time with Lisa Hanna winning the Miss World contest in 1993, and in 2006, Portia (Simpson Miller) facing life as the country's first female prime minister. It even picked up a burst of speed in 2008 when Usain Bolt sprinted to three world records and levelled off in 2015 when POTUS and FLOTUS, President and Mrs Obama, came to town. So where did it go so horribly wrong?

Go back, my Jamaican and Caribbean friends, to the Emancipation Jubilee held annually at Seville in St Ann. As all students of West Indian history know, Seville is a port that became famous during the time of the Spanish empire, and while it was important to Ferdinand and Isabella, it pales in importance to the Jamaican Seville that every year celebrates one of the wonders, not just of Jamaica, but of the entire world. In fact, I would not be surprised if the UFOs reported by so many over the years were headed to Seville, not to land their spaceships, but to quench their thirst and satisfy their cravings.




It is true that the emancipation of slaves in Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean was a historic moment that should be in the Top Ten with Lovindeer's Wild Gilbert. But that is still not the missing ingredient in the moments that count. What I was attracted to, and struck by, was an article by Carl Gilchrist in The Gleaner last week Saturday headlined 'All for the love of chocolate'.

If, like Martin Luther King Jr, I had a dream, it would be about little milk chocolates and little dark chocolates holding hands in a balanced diet. Released like Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison, my first wish would have been for an enamel cup full of Jamaican hot chocolate, cooked in a huge pot on a wood fire by Sonny, and mixed with milk and cinnamon.

The fact is that even before 1494, Jamaicans were brewing 'a hot beverage brewed from shavings of freshly harvested cacao, boiled with milk and cinnamon'. Historian Jame Delbougo debunked the British claim that Sir Hans Sloane, an Ireland-born British physician, naturalist and collector invented chocolate milk.

It is said that "Sloane encountered cacao while he was in Jamaica, where the locals drank it mixed with water, though he is reported to have found it nauseating. Many recipes for mixing chocolate with spice, eggs, sugar and milk were in circulation by the 17th century. After returning from Jamaica, Sloane may have devised his own recipe for mixing chocolate with milk, though, if so, he was not the first."

The outcome is that Sloane's chocolate milk was being marketed in the 1750s as a wonder drug and then Cadbury got into the act, followed by J.S. Fry and Sons. Later, our cocoa from the Caribbean came back to us as Tono, Milo, Ovaltine and the interestingly named Horlicks. There was one made in Holland that I really liked. It was named 'C.C. Mel' and it was so popular that even after so many years off our shelves, David Rudder would exclaim, "Lord! Ah feeling for some CC Mel right now!" I am in total agreement.




Even though I was joking when I postulated that a splinter faction of the Tainos called the Ovaltainos invented Jamaican chocolate milk, it is no laughing matter. When it comes to chocolate and its varieties, liquid, solid, melting in the hand or mouth, with or without nuts, white or dark, I am a chocoholic, and my two daughters are the same.

I have said before, but there is no harm and only joy in repeating it, that seven days without chocolate make one weak, and although chocolate does not make the world go round, it actually makes the trip worthwhile. In fact, I am like the lady who told the waitress, "I would like Death By Chocolate for dessert, but just enough to put me in a critical condition."

Actually, there is medical proof that chocolate reduces your risk of dying from heart diseases. Researchers have found that chocolate is a rich source of beneficial bioactive compounds for both men and women across all age groups. The Children's Hospital of Colorado recommends chocolate milk for hydration, as a protein source for muscle repair, an energy storehouse, a carbohydrate booster and a low-cost replenishing option.

Announcing my intention to attend next year's Emancipation Jubilee in Jamaica, I asked one of my friends, "What about Cocoa Tea?" He replied, "Not a good idea. Makes you Hurry Up and Come."

- Tony Deyal was last seen answering the eternal question about the meaning of life. He insists that all evidence to date suggests it's chocolate.