Choco magic

Modica’s chocolate is one of the most famous products of the Ragusa area. It is still made the same way the ancient Aztecs made chocolate in Mexico and its tradition dates back to the 16th century. The technique was brought over by the Spaniards who in turn learned about it in what is now Mexico.

Modica, along with all of southern Italy, was under Spanish rule at the time when the Spanish discovered the New World and, consequently, introduced to Europe products they found in the Americas, like sweet and chili peppers, potatoes, tomatoes and, of course, chocolate.

In Modica the original chocolate making technique from the 16th century has been maintained much truer to original intents so you get chocolate that is made straight from the cacao beans, with no added cocoa butter or soy lecithin.

One step of the old traditional process required working the cocoa on the Mexican metate, a lava stone slab with a stone rolling pin, to grind roasted cocoa beans on a fire that does not make the cocoa mass go over 40 degrees Celsius. This means that when sugar is added it gets mixed in but does not melt, thus giving the grainy texture this chocolate is famous for.

The two traditional flavors of Modica chocolate are vanilla and cinnamon, as well as hot chilli pepper (peperoncino). Today you can find all sorts of flavors, including nutmeg, white pepper, citrus, cardamom, sea salt, etc.

The best way to have it is melted in a hot creamy chocolate with milk or water, traditionally it was also eaten with a piece of bread or used in cooking to prepare savory dishes.

The best Modica chocolate is produced by Sabadi:

9 Responses to “Choco magic”
  1. miketommasi says:

    Interesting, but is it good? Modern chocolate making techniques produce superb taste and especially texture, thanks to prolonged conchage. I cannot imagine this chocolate coming close to the quality of a good bar from Cluizel or Marcolini or Bonnat.

    It is a little like listening to Bach’s great keyboard pieces on a harpsichord. Interesting, but let’s face it , it sounds a lot better on a piano and after a while all the scratching of the harpsichord gets to your nerves.

    Period instruments? Ancient chocolate? Every now and then, why not, but let’s not make a religion out of it… 🙂

  2. . says:

    I have tasted it and I loved it.
    You should not compare it with the chocolates which are classially produced now. You should take it as something completelly different.

    Because it’s produced with lower temperatures the cacao developes different, more sophisticated tastes.
    Ask Carlo Vischi – he has even published a book dedicated only to the modica chocolate.

    PS Are you because the modern culture has developed white sugar, white rice etc against the natural forms of it? 🙂

  3. . says:

    I just wanted to say that we shouldn’t be against the old ways of production just because we invented the new ones.
    Isn’t slow food also about preserving local specialities and traditions? 😉
    This is one which should for sure be preserved and we can be happy that it remained unchanged for so long.

  4. miketommasi says:

    Agreed, but in the end what counts is the taste, so I now need to taste this chocolate….

    For example, do not forget that many of the so-called heritage tomatoes are very recent obtentions based on older varieties, coming from hybridizations and selections that try to obtain the taste of the old varieties without the problems (sensitivity to disease, low yields, need to fertilize and treat heavily against pests). Same goes for the varieties of strawberry introduced recently, like Mara des Bois and Garriguette, these are delicious, need fewer treatments.

    I think that the fact that agricultural science is now selecting for taste is a very good thing.

  5. . says:

    i agree. But you will see – the taste is excellent.
    Even my 13 years old daughter loved it (and you know that children are not used of unusual tastes).

  6. miketommasi says:

    That’s a good test, I’ll try on my 14 year old daughter… 🙂

  7. . says:

    Our daughters have practically the same age.
    Mine will be 14 in August.
    Let me know how will you both like it! 🙂

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