Sicily is the land of outstanding food, wine, patisserie and… chocolate!
I took a little break from my wine hunting, so I decided to travel to the city of Modica (in the South-East of the island) in search of one of the best Sicilian food excellence: chocolate! It is there where I met Innocenzo Pluchino, expert chocolatier and owner of Ciomod, a boutique and artisan chocolate factory founded in 2003.
Innocenzo is very passionate about his mission to produce, “from bean to bar”, the best chocolate in the world! Only the finest cocoa beans, flavoured with natural spices like vanilla, chili pepper and cinnamon are used to produce Ciomod’s chocolate bars. They are so good that I left the factory with lots of samples to bring back to Scotland, how could Steven, my husband forgive me if I didn’t!
The history of Modica’s chocolate is very fascinating, and Innocenzo is a great story teller! In less than an hour I learned that Modica’s chocolate has ancient origins and had its roots in the Aztecs, the civilasation who ruled central and south America from the 13th to the 16th century.
For the people of ancient Mexico, cocoa was considered a nutritious food, a financial support and a symbol of high social position. It was also used for its benefits and healing properties. Aztecs used cocoa beans to make a drink called “Xocoatl”, flavoured with spices and local herbs.
So, how did the Mexican cocoa beans arrived to Modica? Thanks to the Spanish domination in both Mexico and Sicily in the sixteenth century. The Spaniards probably learned from the Aztecs the technique of processing cocoa beans and they were the first to add the sugar during the making process.
Historically, it has been handed down as a typical dessert of the Spanish noble families who prepared it at home for their enjoyment. Since then, it has become an internationally renowned confectionery product.
Modica chocolate has obtained the IGP recognition, becoming the first chocolate to be protected by the European Union.