We had invasion of the ants yesterday. It was just about a year ago, that we had an infestation. Julie had just left for two weeks in the US when I awoke one morning to ants all over the kitchen. They were streaming in one window, and then a day later they were all over the bedroom. So I knew to expect them again, but since it has been much colder this year, I figured I had another week or two. I had just bought some more ant spray, and ant traps. I had sprayed the windows where they had come in last year, and put out the traps, so I thought we were good. Yesterday, Julie went in to take a nap, and about 5 minutes later, I hear a death curdling scream coming from the bedroom. :(. The ants had decided to come in through a different window, and for some reason, I guess the bed smelled nice to them, because they were crawling all over the bed. We stripped all the blankets and sheets off, and then vacuumed up all we could find.
I did spray the window they were using as their entrance, and spent the rest of the day washing sheets and blankets. I think we have the problem under control now!
We stayed close to home again this weekend. Saturday, we took the train to get Popeye’s, and Sunday we took a tour through the Lindt Chocolate factory. Julie and I had talked for a long time about going through the tour, and finally were able to get tickets. It was a very interesting way to spend a couple of hours.
The tour started in the cocoa farms of South America, and took you through the present day. I have to admit I am still a little confused as to how Switzerland came to be known for chocolate. The tour made it seem kind of magical. A one time combination to having the best cows in the world, combined with the smartest people.
A breif history of chocolate in switzerland
I am not going to get into the ancient history, primarily because it is kind of boring, but also because it does not relate that much to present day. Let’s just say that chocolate powder used to simply be mixed with water, and apparently it is an abhorrent drink. However, as Europeans discovered the Americas chocolate was brought back and mixed with sugar. Then it started to become palatable. The Swiss come into the story early, because back in the 15 – 1600’s Switzerland was central to trading routes through all of Europe. For the next 200 – 300 years chocolate was primarily reserved for the wealthy. This was because only the wealthy could afford to waste honey and sugar on a luxury product.
In the early 1800’s the supply of chocolate became strong enough to lower the prices for the masses. This is when experimentation truly started. In 1819 a Swiss with the last name Cailler invented a process to mass produce the first chocolate candy bars. At this time chocolate tasted better, but it was still more of a paste and very crumbly when dried. In 1830, the grandfather to Toblerone was invented; this was supposedly the first time chocolate was mixed with nuts. Another 45 years passed before the next major milestone happened. in 1875 two men one named Peters the other named NESTLE got together and mixed powdered milk in with chocolate, this was the discovery of milk chocolate. This really took off the sales of chocolate. It was now easier to transport as it did not crumble as badly, but it was still more dry and chalky. Since sales were skyrocketing more people spent time experimenting with chocolate. Now this is according the Lindt lore…. in 1879 Mr Lindt discovered the secret to present day chocolate. He was struggling in the lab trying to find improvements. His brother came and took him hunting for the weekend. Mr Lindt forgot to turn off his equipment, so for two days the chocolate paste just kept being mixed. When he returned on Monday, he had learned the secret. Keep mixing the chocolate, and eventually it would become light and creamy. The next big breakthrough in chocolate also came from another Swiss company. Nestle invented white chocolate in the 1930s. So there is your quick history lesson of the day.
Back to the tour
One of the most interesting things, to me, was being able to taste the chocolate along the different stages of production. I was hoping to get a taste of what the original chocolate tasted like, but I guess our palates are too sensitive now. However, the mixing really does make a HUGE difference between the consistency and taste of the chocolate. The museum walks you through every step in the production process. It started with how the beans are farmed and picked. Then you see the different stages in the chocolate paste as the beans are ground, and sweeteners are added. Finally you see an actual production line. The video below is a short one I took of the test production line in the factory.
One thing that really surprised me was the amount of shaking that goes into making chocolate. In the production line, there were three different parts of the line that shake. The shaking is used to remove air and to make the chocolate settle. Bottom line it was a great way to spend a few hours on a rainy dismal Sunday.
I hope you enjoy the pictures.
My last thought, NO did not try the Vegan Chocolate. That just seemed kind of sacrilegious.