Beth Siegalkoff

National Chocolate Day, celebrated each Oct. 28, is nothing short of a special tribute to mankind’s greatest culinary invention (sorry, pizza).

Chocolate can enhance even the most luxurious dessert items. On the other hand, you can get your fix from a simple candy bar. Hint: Try chocolate with a “high cacao” percentage and low added sugar.

The history of chocolate goes back 2,500 years. Aztecs loved their newly discovered liquid chocolate to the extent that they believed Quetzalcoati, the god of wisdom, literally bestowed it upon them.

Cacao seeds acted as a form of currency. And this was back in the “bitter” chocolate days – before they added sugar! Once chocolate turned sweet – in 16th century Europe, the masses caught on and turned chocolate into a powerhouse treat.

Several present-day chocolate companies began operations in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Cadbury was started by 1868 in England. Milton S. Hershey, 25 years later, purchased chocolate processing equipment at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. He started the company by producing chocolate-coated caramels. Nestle, dating back to the 1860s, has grown into one of the largest food conglomerates in the world.

Did you know chocolate is a fermented food? Once the cacao pods are picked, cleaned of pithy white material from the fruit and dried, the cacao beans are fermented. The papery shell is removed, and cacao nibs are revealed. Chocolatiers then grind them into cocoa, separate them into cocoa liquor, which is separated into two parts, the dark chocolate solids (some combined with milk for milk chocolate) and light cocoa butter – in the case of white chocolate, just the cocoa butter is combined with milk and sugar.

So, get your quick chocolate fix today and grab a handful of chocolate kisses. I’ll have mine with almonds, please.

Halloween is this Saturday; keep a watch out for Trick or Treaters. I know Trick or Treating has been discouraged but there will be some goblins, fairies, witches,and ninjas traveling the neighborhoods, doing their best to make some good memories, all the while social distancing and, of course, everyone will be wearing a mask. It is Halloween, after all.

Here’s a thought. I was recently at a local store and was asked if I would like to round up on what I owed. It was a donation for U.C. Davis so, of course, I said yes. It got me to thinking, what if every business in our area asked their customers to round up what they owed, and the money that was collected given to our schools, not to the districts but to the schools’ student bodies; elementary schools and high schools would switch off every month. High schools could use it to purchase yearbooks, dance tickets, game tickets, play tickets, senior year fun stuff, etc., for students who have tight budgets. It is a very rudimentary idea and definitely needs some fleshing out. However, it is a way to keep our money local and give our students a little extra. Oh, what memories we could give these students. And we will even be helping with the shortage of change by rounding up – no coins rattling in our pockets or handbags.

Remember to turn your clock back one hour this Saturday before you go to bed. Sunday is the first day of the end of Daylight Saving Time.

Recipe for the day: anything chocolate – chocolate cake, fudge, chocolate pie; Flower for the day: Ivy Geraniums

Dates to remember:

Oct. 31 – Halloween and Full Hunters’ moon

Nov. 1 – Daylight Saving Time ends

Nov. 3 – Don’t forget to vote

Nov. 11 – Veterans Day

Nov. 23 -27 – Thanksgiving vacation – schools are closed

Nov. 26 – Thanksgiving

Until next week, be strong, be courageous and make a memory.