A little story about chocolate...
Once upon a time, there was a little piece of chocolate. But how can such a delicacy be associated with Belgium when it is well known that no cocoa tree has ever grown in the heart of Europe, or at least not in a way that would yield enough beans to extract the precious cocoa?
So how did this cocoa bean come to our land?
The precious bean came from the Americas and was used as currency or even as a 'medicine' to fight fatigue, heart failure and fever by the Maya in 600 BC. It was brought back in the chests of Hernán Cortés in 1558. He offered it as a gift to the king of Spain to the delight of the nobility and clergy of the time, who enjoyed it as a drink. Philip II had the excellent idea of exporting it within his vast kingdom, which included the Spanish Netherlands, whose capital was then Brussels. In the 17th century, cocoa arrived via the port of Antwerp and the first traces of its consumption in our countries can be found in the Baudelo Abbey (Ghent), where the precious beverage was served to the monks. The beverages of our abbeys are a source of wealth.
It was not until the 18th century and the industrial revolution that chocolate became more accessible. Chocolate then appeared in its solid form and it was not until the 19th century that its consumption became more widespread. The first Belgian bar was created in Antwerp by the company Berwaerts in 1840 and the first 'stick of chocolate' was created by Antoine Jacques. And in case you have forgotten, chocolate is excellent for health as the Maya had already experienced. Praline was first created in the pharmacy of Jean Neuhaus in 1857 when he coated his medicines with a layer of chocolate to alleviate their taste. Then, in 1912, his grandson had the excellent idea of replacing the medicine with cream.
Praline was born and has brought great happiness ever since!