Sunday, November 13, 2005

The Introduction of Tea, Coffee, and Chocolate

From Isaac D'Israeli's Curiousities of Literature, a six-volume collection of miscellenea from the 1820s:

IT is said that the frozen Norwegians, on the first sight of roses, dared not touch what they conceived were trees budding with fire: and the natives of Virginia, the first time they seized on a quantity of gunpowder, which belonged to the English colony, sowed it for grain expecting to reap a plentiful crop of combustion by the next harvest, to blow away the whole colony.
If you read the rest of the wordy piece about the initial European reactions to hot drinks, you will learn that tea was touted as a panacea for the sole purpose of kindling a market for the weeds that were coming back in the sailing ships from China; that coffee only caught on because Parisian women were entranced by the cute little cups it was served in; and that monks were forbidden from drinking chocolate ostensibly because it inflamed the passions, but really just because everyone else wanted to make sure there was enough for the rest of us.

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