Before arriving to Barcelona I heard about the CHOCOLATE-addiction that the Catalan citizens have. I honestly thought that it was just a cliché. Wrong!!!! (with buzz included). If you come to Barcelona you will find almost impossible to scape from this catchy addiction or chocolate therapy, as I like to call it. And if you are wondering If I have become a victim of this sweet addiction, you got the right answer: Si!!!!!! More than ever, I am crazy about chocolate!
As I said before, Barcelona, can not live without their “xocolata” (catalan word for chocolate). It is no coincidence that for centuries the city’s port was one of the main gateways to Europe of cocoa from America. Quickly it became the fashionable drink among nobles and aristocrats and absolutely essential in the high-standing meetings. Chocolate was good for everyone, specially to those notable families of the Catalan bourgeoisie, who made their fortunes at the end of the 19th century with the cocoa trade from the overseas colonies and its later transformation into chocolate
From their delicious hot chocolate with whipped cream, known as “a suís” (Swiss), typically paired with fried sweet dough called “churros”, served in most cafés and chocolate shops around the city, to the magnific chocolate show pieces and figures traditionally given to the kids by their godparents on Easter Monday called “Monas de Pascua”, made by well-known Pastry Chefs and Chocolatiers like Escribá, Oriol Balaguer, Baixas family and Enric Rovira, Barcelona is truly devoted to their chocolate!
Chocolate is an important ingredient of Catalan cuisine. It is used in savory dishes, in sauce bases and spicy sauces, for dishes with rabbit, chicken, squid, prawns and lobster. Even more, Catalans are such chocoholics that they have built their own chocolate museum called “Museu de la Xocolata”. And when you are given a chocolate bar as a ticket at the museum entrance, you know that chocolate is a serious business in this city!
“El Museu de la Xocolata” first open its doors in 2000 and it is one of top ten most visited museums in Barcelona. It is not hard to believe it as it offers activities to the whole family, like chocolate workshops for kids, birthday celebrations (I will consider this for next year if I am still in BCN) and guide tours. This museum belongs to “Escuela del Gremio de Pastelería de Barcelona” (Barcelona Pastry School) and has the purpose to promote the chocolate as a product with high nutritional, medicinal and cultural value
The visit to this museum is a fantastic trip through the history of chocolate. It starts in its origin, as a spicy drink consumed by the Aztecs gods, to the exquisite shape of a “bonbon” (small chocolate treats that were consumed by the members of the French Royal Court in the 18th century) and to the spectacular chocolate show pieces that are an amazed to all visitors
Master chocolatiers like Julio Carretero, Dominique Miró, and Josep Balcells, who appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1984 with his chocolate figures, are some of the most well-known artists that this city owns
“Los Romanos” (The Romans) chocolate art piece by Dominique Miró is an example of the master chocolate work done by the Catalan artists that are exhibited at the museum
Different chocolate techniques were applied to made this art piece that captures all the feelings and emotions of their characters like: molding, sculpting, carving …
“Los Romanos” by Dominique Miró
you can feel the emotions of these roman soldiers just by looking at their faces and gestures…
The chocolate art pieces at this museum are incredible done and preserved that sometimes it is so hard to believe that were made with chocolate! Like this one called “Tauromanía” (bull fan) made by Catalan Chocolatier Julio Carretero
All the showpieces are covered with air-tight sealed glass cases to protect their shape and color. As well, the temperature of the museum is kept at the appropriate one for the chocolate preservation avoiding humidity and extreme heat. If all the conditions are well maintained, a chocolate art piece could last between ten to forty years!
Another show piece by Julio Carretero called “El Quijote de la Mancha”
More emotions perfectly captured in “El Quijote” chocolate show piece by Julio Carretero
The characters of the comic “Tin-Tin en su viaje a la luna” (Tin-Tin goes to the moon) by Catalan Master Chocolatier Dominique Miró
In this chocolate show piece, artist Cristina Sintes, well captures the emotions of this little boy in her piece called “Sentimientos” (Feelings). She carved the chocolate block to made this piece and used the chocolate spray technique as well to give a velvety final touch to her creation
Students at “La Escuela de Pastelería del Gremio de Barcelona” (Barcelona Pastry School) have their chance as well to participate in international chocolate competitions where the winners could see their own art pieces exhibited at the Museum. This year, the theme of the Chocolate competition was “Barcelona”. This chocolate piece had the first place in the competition and resembles the water fountain at “Las Ramblas” in the heart of the City
25 kilograms of chocolate were needed to make this art piece by the Chefs of the Barcelona Pastry School called “El Cuadrante” (The Quadrant)
It also required the used of serigraphy techniques for the final touch
Chef Jordi Sempere posed by the chocolate art piece that represents “La Sagrada Familia” (The Holy Family Cathedral) as he worked so hard to accomplish this art piece that was presented to Pope John Paul II in a celebration that honored his visit to the City
A picture that captures that “moment of Glory” where the Chefs of Barcelona Pastry School met the Pope and honored his presence at Cathedral “La Sagrada Familia”, is showed by this chocolate art piece at the museum
Working with chocolate requires much passion as precision
Patience is required when working with it as it is so sensitive and delicate. Forget about being in a rush if you decide to step into this art!
Umm …. chocolate!
and more chocolate! … What our lives would be without it? … from the pleasure that we feel when it melts in our mouths at its first bite, to the amaze we experience when we look at chocolate show pieces made by artists and chocolatiers. Chocolate knows well how to bring joy and put a smile in faces of all ages with each unwrap!