The French got to know chocolate in 1615: when Louis XIII married the Spanish Anna of Austria. They moved to France, introducing the chocolate drink to the royal court. Anna even brought her own maid Molina to France, a beautiful girl who prepared the queen’s cocoa drink. The Netherlands became part of the Spanish imperium in the 14th century, which explains the early introduction of cocoa there in 1621. The West Indian Company even imported cocoa through the port of Amsterdam, set up small-scale production units for the processing of cocoa and sold its products to foreign traders.

Belgium was annexed with the Spanish imperium after the death of Charles the Bold in 1477. The first traces of cocoa were found in Ghent in 1635 in the Baudeloo abbey. In 1641 the German scientist Johan Georg Volckammer tasted chocolate on his trip to Napoli. He was so overwhelmed by the charm of it that he imported some chocolate to Germany. It took him some time to convince the Germans, but after a while many of them fell for its taste. The Germans even introduced the habit of drinking a cup of hot chocolate before sleeping. Did this have something to do with the German belief in chocolate as the best stimulus for passion?

English, chocolate was valued as “extravagant” when they first got to taste it in 1657. As in the rest of Europe, chocolate was a privilege at first, only consumed at the royal court and by the nobles but it soon developed into a popular foodstuff for the upper class. France had its first real chocolatier in 1659. David Chaillou prepared and sold biscuits and cakes made with chocolate for those who could afford it. It is still too early for real pralines, as we know them.

In 1674 chocolate was served in pastry in the first coffee houses in the UK. When he visited the Belgian capital Brussels in 1697 the Zurich mayor Heinrich Escher tasted chocolate on one of his tours around the city. He was filled with so much amazement and enthusiasm that he immediately took samples back with him to Switzerland. Escher probably never imagined for himself what the consequence for Switzerland would be – becoming one the world's greatest chocolate nations.

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