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  • Writer's pictureТимофей Милорадович

More than just chocolate

Once I saw a comment from a Sicilian to a magnificent photo with the landscape of Sicily: "Why the Sicilians do not know how to behave and do not know how to do anything, living poorly among the paradise nature." But the whole history of Sicily says that everything is really good. The wealth of other regions of the world gained in the 20th century is associated with industrialization, into which Sicily was not very drawn. This industrialization has made millions of people miserable and even killed, replacing honest labor with a state of slavery in factories and making people appendages of conveyor machines. Now everyone understands how many troubles the twentieth century brought, and that the benefits of civilization were largely not worth these sacrifices. What was happening in Sicily? People continued to work honestly, creating values ​​with their own hands, by the sweat of their brows, as people needed and God pleased, and now the works of the masters of Sicily are beginning to be noticed and highly appreciated in the world. And this is natural, because works created by skillful hands, an honest soul and a free spirit should really be highly appreciated. This can be well seen in the production of Modica chocolate. We are talking about this today with Nicolo' Reina, an employee of the Custonaci Tourist Office, a connoisseur of Sicilian life.

- Hello, Nicolo'.

- Hello Elena.

- Nicolo', I remember that when I tasted Modica chocolate, it made a vivid impression that I could not forget. I saw that it was unique, and it was not at all like of chocolate that can be bought in stores of any other brands. Modica chocolate gives a touch of something ancient, strong, deep, healing, wise and simple at the same time. It seems to me that it is like the whole Sicily.

- Yes, Elena. Modica chocolate is unique in that it almost completely retains the most valuable properties of cocoa, for which the Aztecs considered chocolate to be a divine drink. Because in Modica, craftsmen use a large curved stone, place cocoa on it and grind this cocoa with their own hands using stone rolling pins of different sizes, depending on the stage of preparation. The stone on which the cocoa is ground is called metate, and this stone is almost the same as that of the Aztecs. But the actions of the Aztecs were ritual, they were pagans. Sicilians understand that everything is given from God for the benefit and strengthening of the people, honestly working. Therefore, the Sicilians added sugar to bitter cocoa, and it is known that sugarcane grows in Sicily. In addition, literally lava from Etna is placed under the metate, and therefore the cocoa on the stone heats up, but not higher than 40 degrees Celsius, this leaves the cocoa alive, making it malleable. This "cold" processing technology preserves all the most valuable properties of cocoa, leaving the oil in the cocoa beans. The chocolate gets grainy with a marble-like texture. In addition, the spices of Sicily are added to Modica chocolate, today there are dozens of varieties of chocolate. Modica chocolate contains 50 to 99% cocoa, but it's not about the quantity, it's about how the cocoa is handled and how the chocolate is made.

- This is exactly what we are talking about, I see that there is a clear feature of Sicily, it is orthodox in the deepest and broadest sense. In Sicily, the valuable that God gave to people remain. Sicilians work with their hands, applying their talent and intuition, preserving all the valuable and useful qualities of products for the benefit of people.

- I agree with you that Sicily carefully preserves all the values that were given to her, therefore, our skill is preserved in families, and our saints are always with us.

- It is true, the inhabitants of Modica pray to George the Victorious as their patron, an orthodox saint. According to Tradition, Saint George lived in Sicily, in the Etna region, before his feats.

- Sicilians do not just preserve their values and their saints, they develop, building their lives and work on these values every day. And that is exactly what is bearing fruit. Let's return to Modica chocolate, in 2020 the demand for it increased by almost a quarter, and production amounted to 209 thousand kilograms of chocolate, which is 2.4 million bars. That's great, but it's not just sales. Sicilians show creativity and talent when using chocolate. Previously, craftsmen carved beautiful statues and bas-reliefs from marble, now they make it from chocolate, and it's amazing. Modica chocolate took part in the Eurochocolate festival, then the event became known as ChocoModica, which now takes place in cooperation with Eurochocolate. At one of the exhibitions, a room-sized mapof Italy was made from chocolate, as well as chocolate copies of marble bas-reliefs from museums of Italy. It attracted a lot of tourists, and it was great.

- Yes, I understand. People want natural, wholesome, healthful foods now like never before. And cocoa is known as a product that improves the functioning of the heart and blood vessels, cocoa helps to control blood pressure. Plus, Modica chocolate does not contain vegetable fats, milk, soy lecithin. In addition, it is recognized that natural Modica chocolate, together with red wine such as Marsala or Nero d'Avola, for example, has an excellent health enhancing effect by contributing to the biodiversity of the internal environment of the body.

- Let's talk about the trend that is visible. It originates in spiritual roots, embraces the life of society and individuals with their creativity, and it is embodied in economic success naturally, within the framework of a cultural life cycle.

- Yes, we see that 60% of the population of Sicily during the 20th century remained to work in their small workshops, feeding on their roots and personal talent, they continued to create with their own hands what is necessary for a simple, real, healthy life. Even if factories appeared, ten workers were already considered a factory. As a result, the values and traditional way of life were preserved. And now that the harm caused by the industrialization of the 20th century is rather obvious, our people have already reached a high level of craftsmanship and can offer products that are natural and health-promoting, thereby helping the economic growth of Sicily. And the guests of Sicily now well understand what they can get useful in Sicily, bringing their money as an investment in support of talented people. This is fair and just before God and people. Modica chocolate is just one example, but it is symbolic. In the sixteenth century, the Spanish brought cocoa from America, and Sicily was a powerful autonomy during the years of Spanish rule. Next, we see “Modica Chocolate” in the Grimaldi Papers - 1746/1915. Sicily remains the only place where the ancient chocolate recipe continues to be maintained almost unchanged. In 2003, a Consortium of 20 Modica chocolate manufacturers was created to protect the authenticity of the product. In 2018, Modica chocolate received the Protected Geographical Indication recognition from the European Union. This means that Modica chocolate cannot be counterfeited, as the local climate, production and growing conditions of the ingredients affect the properties of the product.

- Okay, let's take this lesson from the history of the development of Sicilian producers. It’s good to be yourself, it’s right and honest. It's important to stay yourself long enough and work hard on your development. There is no need to chase abstractions and illusions. You need to do your job well where your talent is, God will be with you, and people, in the end, will appreciate your efforts.

- For the honest prosperity of Sicily.

- For the honest prosperity of Sicily.

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