BBC Radio 3: Free Thinking





Chocolate is an indulgent luxury used to mark special points in the calendar like Valentine’s Day, Easter and Christmas. But it’s also everywhere, from breakfast cereals to protein shakes. Shahidha Bari unravels this paradox, tracing the meanings of chocolate from ancient Central America, via the Aztecs and Maya, over the Atlantic to the Spanish court, the coffee houses and palaces of 17th century London, to the invention of mass-produced milk chocolate as we know it today in Switzerland in the late 19th and early 20th century. It’s a story of pleasure, intoxication, conquest and industrialisation, all following from the specific culinary qualities of a bean.


Bee Wilson, food writer whose most recent book is The Secret Of Cooking: Recipes For An Easier Life In The Kitchen

Sean Williams, Radio 3 & AHRC New Generation Thinker and Senior Lecturer in German and European Cultural History at the University of Sheffield

Caroline Dodds Pennock, Senior Lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield, whose most recent book is On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe

Misha Ewen, Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Bristol

Producer: Luke Mulhall