Christmas Chocolate Tour
Join Aztec slaves, Spanish conquistadors, rakish gamblers and nihilistic dukes for a mesmerising Christmas tour of the decadent chocolate houses of Georgian London led by Dr Matthew Green to violin accompaniment.
- A collaboration with Cocoa Hernando, creating luxury flavoured chocolate inspired by travels around the world, the tour includes free servings of the mind-blowing Jasmine Chocolate of Cosimo de’ Medici brewed with jasmine, vanilla, cinnamon and musk.
- The event finishes with a walk across the Thames to the London Chocolate Festival at the Southbank Centre to sample some luxury chocolate. Discounts on Cocoa Hernando products.
Witness the dark history of how chocolate became associated with decadence, depravity, and sex, corrupting the most elite quarter in Europe.
Meet the the chief Spanish conquistador, Hernán Cortés, the man who pulverised the Aztec Empire and brought chocolate to Europe. Hear his stories of how he found money growing on trees in the form of cacao pods, which the locals like to brew into a thick black drink flavoured with chilli and vanilla and devour after feasts and before sacrifices to the Sun God.
Enjoy an audience with Cosimo de’ Medici of Tuscany, Baroque Europe’s most gluttonous tyrant and taste his world famous Jasmine hot chocolate, a drink so exotic and enchanting, the recipe remained a state secret throughout the 17th century. Marvel at the contrast with the weak and watery powdered hot chocolate that most of us suffer today.
Talk to the exuberant Frenchman with a twirly moustache who opened London’s first chocolate house in 1657, triggering a chocolate craze, and listen to some shocking extracts from his book about the erotic and panacean qualities of the thick black goo: fuel for the loins.
Saunter through the elegant garden squares, majestic boulevards and ancient alleys of St James’s where the famous chocolate houses sprouted among the luxury shops, vertiginous townhouses and royal palaces (all of which survive today) of the country’s most exclusive address, once home to prime ministers, kings, queens and royal concubines.
Visit the lively, decadent chocolate houses the Cocoa Tree and Ozinda’s: heady whirlpools of indulgence swirling with sedition, intrigue, and scandal. And one of the greatest vices of the age, White’s Chocolate House, a “pit of destruction” immortalised by Hogarth, where entire fortunes were squandered on a nightly basis in “hell”, its central betting room, which hosted some of the most absurd and reckless bets the world has ever seen.
With dramatic performances, Baroque and Rococo violins, and a cornucopia of historical anecdotes – not to mention the best hot chocolate in London – this is an unmissable event curated and written by London historian Dr Matthew Green.
Dr Matthew Green
In 2009, Dr Matthew Green completed a PhD in the history of the mass media at Oxford University. Unmoved by the prospect of a cloistered academic life he turned to popular history and now writes for the Guardian and Telegraph, appears on BBC TV and radio, teaches a wide range of historical subjects, and gives sell-out talks at the Idler Academy, 5x15, Port Eliot and elsewhere. He is currently writing a book on 17th and 18th-century coffeehouses.