THE TRUE HISTORY OF MODICA CHOCOLATE
The influence of Sicilian Dominations
Sicily is a wonderful island with a great historical and cultural heritage, appreciated all over the world. Its beauty is the result of the encounter, the contamination, of the different foreign peoples that have conquered it over the centuries. One of the dominations that have left their imprint, which is still tangible today in art, dialect expressions, gastronomy, etc., is the Spanish domination.
The Role of the Spanish in the Modica Chocolate Tradition
The Spanish occupied Sicily for about 500 years. It is actually to them that we owe the baroque style of churches and mansions – which we like to admire when we are on holiday – and chocolate, the chocolate we know as “Modica Chocolate” of “Chocolate of Modica“, delicious and different from any other kind of chocolates. In fact, the Spanish were the first ones who mix the cocoa beans from the lands conquered in South America with sugar. By means of a technique – which mainly consists in processing these two ingredients together, as little as possible and at low temperatures – they obtained a preparation that looks very much like the chocolate that is nowadays still produced in the south-east of Sicily, in Modica. In many lands that were once occupied by the Spanish, this traditional technique to make chocolate has disappeared. It has been changed in others; in Modica, it has been preserved.
The Aztecs have nothing to do with Modica Chocolate
To better clarify the history of this chocolate, it should be pointed out that for many years, and still today, certain fictionalised stories and corporate storytelling have generated confusion about the true origin of Modica chocolate, using the Aztecs and fantasy to charm tourists and the most inexperienced consumers. The Aztecs have nothing to do with Modica chocolate; in fact, the Aztecs did not yet know one of the fundamental ingredients for making chocolate: sugar. Using cocoa beans instead (and without sugar!), they prepared a drink that has nothing to do with chocolate in terms of taste, ingredients and consistency (they did not make bars).
Modica Chocolate Today
Today, Modica Chocolate is the first chocolate in Europe that obtained the Protected Geographical Indication status – the so-called PGI stamp that we find on the chocolate bars made exclusively in the territory of Modica, by companies adhering to the control system regulated by the Italian Ministry of Agriculture.