August 17th, 2018

From Our Table: A few more of my favourite things

By Medicine Hat News on February 13, 2018.

Another one of my favourite things is right around the corner — Valentine’s Day!

It’s a day to celebrate love which is yet another one of my favourite things. It’s also associated with a very special food, chocolate, which is also one of my favourites. And most importantly pink is one of the common colours displayed so beautifully to help celebrate this day of love and those who know me well know pink is most definitely one of my favourite things.

So why are chocolate and Valentine’s Day so closely linked? Apparently chocolate has a history of being a love food. I actually didn’t know there was such a thing as “love foods” but I like the idea. Going back in time to the Mayan and Aztec time chocolate, or more specifically cocoa beans, were a highly prized luxury item. In fact they were valued right up there with gold and used as a commodity to pay taxes.

Fast forward to the 1600s and now chocolate has caught on in Europe. So popular in fact that it is said that when Marie Antoinette married Louis IV she brought her personal chocolate maker with her to Versailles. At that time many thought chocolate had medicinal factors such as calming nerves, aiding digestion and giving strength.

Fast forward again and Valentine’s Day is becoming more and more popular. By the 1800s Valentine’s Day is evolving into a day to shower your true love with gifts. Right about this time the infamous Richard Cadbury was in Britain inventing “eating chocolates.” As a marketing genius he began to place the chocolates in heart shaped boxes with Cupids and rosebuds on them. The boxes were so beautiful people could save them once the chocolates had been eaten and use them to store precious mementos or love letters.

Since people loved to specifically give gifts decorated with Cupid and roses on Valentine’s Day these boxed chocolates also became a popular gift for Valentine’s Day. And there it was — the marriage of chocolate and Valentine’s Day. From my viewpoint of reading about the topic anyway.

A reminder I have a degree in nutrition, not in history. Therefore I can tell you there are no calories in chocolate on Valentine’s Day between 6 and 9 p.m. Just joking.

I know I have shared this favourite chocolate recipe before but I just can’t help sharing it again when I’m talking about my favourite things and Valentine’s Day. I was working retail, not breaking even by the way, and this wonderful woman I worked with who had worked there forever, Louise with her high heels and biggest blackest beehive hairdo I’ve ever seen, brought this “to-die-for” chocolate cake to work. I asked for the recipe and she brought me a copy from a magazine complete with a dazzling photo of Tom Wopat. I’ve been making it for 25 years now and it’s still a family favourite.

In my Valentine’s tradition I’d like to end with a quote.

“To love and be loved is to feel the sun from both sides.” David Viscott

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Joanne Smith is a registered dietitian.

Tom Wopat’s A-O Cake

1 chocolate cake mix

1 package instant chocolate pudding

1-12 oz package chocolate chips

4 eggs

8 oz sour cream

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup oil

Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Pour into greased bundt pan or angel food pan. Bake in preheated 350 F oven for 50-60 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. then turn over onto serving dish. Can sprinkle with icing sugar or top with ganache and let it run down the sides.

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