The world in a cup
The world is the King's chocolate cup
#ChocolateKitchen - the story of C18th drinking chocolate at Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace has restored and brought back to life the long-lost #ChocolateKitchen of the C18th King Georges. Chocolate was a new and glamorous product at the time, valued for medicinal qualities and as an expression of status. Devotion to this tasty treat was taken to dramatic excess at Hampton Court Palace where the Kings employed their own personal chocolatier to prepare their cup of drinking chocolate each morning. The chocolatier was not alone but had a small team of servants to do the hard-grind for him, literally. He was also provided with a #ChocolateKitchen suite, especially built below the King's quarters and his own accommodation too.
Hampton Court Palace have restored the #ChocolateKitchen to how it looked when in use in the18th century. The complete surviving room has been protected by having images projected onto the walls to show the contents, instead of intrusive display boards.
Next door, another room has been created as a facsimile of the original #ChocolateKitchen and 18th century chocolate preparation is demonstrated there by a talented historical interpreter. When he is not present, a film of him at work is projected onto the wall.
Please visit this wonderful new but old display at Hampton Court Palace and after visiting #ChocolateKitchen, relax in the Fountain Court Café with a Chocolate Flight (priced at £3.95). You can taste and enjoy the same rich, spiced hot chocolate that the Georgian Kings savoured every morning.
More information about #ChocolateKitchen can be found at the Hampton Court Palace website.
But. ... please think about it too. Please think about how the hot chocolate travelled from plants grown around the world to the lips of a grandiose monarch. Cocoa and sugar cane are native to South and Central America. By the C18th they were being grown in Caribbean plantations that only functioned due to the inhumanity of slavery. So, the cocoa and sugar used in #ChocolateKitchen were the product of a people stolen from Africa, hauled across the Atlantic and then brutalised in Caribbean plantations. The spices added to the King's choc included vanilla from South America and nutmeg from the spice islands. These spices were the product of the fight for colonial expansion betwixt England, the Netherlands and Spain and relied on international trade and shipping. #ChocolateKitchen was well stocked with fine silver, pewter, copper, porcelain and glassware. All products of a burgeoning C18th industry. We had learned from China how to create porcelain and from the Roman Empire, and ultimately Jews and Arabs, how to create fine glassware.
By the time the King George had tasted his morning chocolate he was already beholden to the whole world. Another King reminded us of this in 1963, not 1763.
We are everlasting debtors to known and unknown men and women.... When we arise in the morning, we go into the bathroom where we reach for a sponge provided for us by a Pacific Islander. We reach for soap that is created for us by a Frenchman. The towel is provided by a Turk. Then at the table we drink coffee which is provided for us by a South American, or tea by a Chinese, or cocoa by a West African. Before we leave for our jobs, we are beholden to more than half the world.
Our thanks to Polly Putnam, curator, Historic Royal Palaces and Marc Meltonville, food historian, Historic Royal Palaces, for an excellent tour of the #ChocolateKitchen.
To plan your day at Hampton Court Palace and book your tickets, please follow this link.
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