Visit to Chocolate Nation, Antwerp; A delicious cure for a bad day

Life is like a box of Belgian chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

I once visited Antwerp, Belgium for the weekend. it was a 45 minute drive across the border from my home in Eindhoven. It’s crazy how much of Europe is accessible by car, and how alike Europeans are, even though many of them don’t agree. And I can understand that. I know how I react when I get compared to my Ghanaian friend Mario. Truth be told, we are more alike than we think and there is more that unites us than separates us.

A Seahorse statue made out of the best Belgian Chocolate

The Dutch and the Belgians always make fun of each other but deep down they love each other. Same as Nigerians and Ghanaian’s. The same reason we love Tom and Jerry, and why Tom will never kill Jerry. Here’s a brief historical context to all the jokes; When the Spanish waged war in the Low Lands (parts of what’s now Belgium and the Netherlands) they were keen to root out Protestantism
Many well off inhabitants living in the Spanish occupied southern part (more or less present day Belgium) who became Protestant fled to the north, fearing the fundamentalist Roman Catholic Spanish rule, with their high taxes levied on the very population they were “protecting”. The runners got the reputation of being stingy. On the other hand, few of those runners were the poor uneducated farmers, who instead remained on the land that provided their income. The people who remained got the reputation of being dumb (Gilissen, 2016).
A few hundred years later that’s still the blueprint for the stereotypical jokes: All Dutch are stingy and all Belgians are dumb.

A Chocolate castle of sweet goodness

There is however one thing that the Dutch and Belgians agree with, and that is the Belgians have the best Chocolate in the world (I’m sure the Swiss disagree). Chocolate Nation is located in the center of
Antwerp, and tells the Belgian chocolate story and carries on the legacy of sweet Belgian excellence.
To understand why Belgian chocolates are so famous and deliciously addictive, it is important to know exactly how they are made. The secret to their success lies in the ingredients used to make them and, of course, in the production process. A law created in 1884 states that a minimum level of 35% cocoa must be used, in order to prevent the usage of low-quality fat sources or other ‘hacks’ to modify the composition. Production starts in the early stages, which includes overseeing how the cocoa beans are planted, the way they are roasted, and which beans are used.
The best known commercial brand of Belgian chocolate is Côte d’Or, which you can find in almost any grocery store in Belgium and in many places around the world. Côte d’Or was founded by Charles Neuhaus in 1870 , who opened a factory shortly after that. The name refers to the Golden Coast, now Ghana in Africa, where the cocoa beans first originated from. The brand is now part of the American multinational company Mondelez International, whose other products include Oreo, Toblerone, Mikado, Milka, and Cadbury.

A mix of Dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Lekker!

Today, Belgian chocolate is world-renowned and continues to play a strong role in the Belgian economy. Overall, there are over 2,000 chocolatiers in the country, so anyone who visits Belgium shouldn’t hesitate to try this delicious treat (Hunt, 2016).

Sources
Gilissen, B. (2016, February 10). On what do the Dutch and the Belgians joke about each other? Retrieved from Quora: https://www.quora.com/On-what-do-the-Dutch-and-the-Belgians-joke-about-each-other

Hunt, D. (2016, November 30). A Brief History Of Belgian Chocolate. Retrieved from Culture trip: https://theculturetrip.com/europe/belgium/articles/a-brief-history-of-belgian-chocolate/

Published by Victor Ogunmodede

Founder of Ekabo.org

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