Chocolate that runs through the veins of Turin

Photo by Simon Howden

Through the veins of Turin, a fragrant and full of aroma brown potion flows. Sometimes, you can smell it under the arcades, squares, courtyards, in the shops and cafes. But you have to be able to recognize it. It has scent of vanilla, almonds and hazelnuts, coffee, cocoa, fruit and honey.

In the past, the city was remembered from travelers for its tidy streets, big boulevards, and some smells. For example the tram braking at intersections, unmistakable mixture of oxidized iron and burnt oil, or the smell of the Po, and the fog that smelled of autumn. Now those scents have been lost. Moreover, even Paris subway’s Arôme has changed over the years. The scent of chocolate, however, keeps rising from the subsoil of Turin, ever since Maria Giovanna of Savoy Nemours, the second “Madama Reale”, granted to Giò Baptist Ari in 1678 the first “license” for the production of ‘food of the gods’ . Turin was soon fascinated by exotic beverages: tea, coffee, “Indian soup” made with “almonds” from the New World. We know that the maitre chocolatier David Chaillou, in those years, had opened a shop near the Louvre in Paris, courtesy of His Majesty Louis XIV. Queen Maria Theresa of Spain introduced the chocolate at court, and the French aristocratic salons liked this habit. At the end of the seventeenth century, Europe discovered the virtues of hot dark chocolate drink, a Spanish “secret” for one hundred years.

In the early nineteenth century, everyone wanted the new ‘Diablotin’, the ancestors of wafers shaped chocolate: they were considered “sweet hell”, and the nobility and even the clergy loved it. Soon, cocoa coming from America was no longer enough and became too expensive. Thus, from 1830-40 Thebroma Cocoa beans began to be mixed with the hazelnuts from the Langhe and Monferrato. The popular chocolate Gianduja was born from that marriage of convenience.

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