On a bone chilling February day, an intimate gathering of 40 people or so, were seeking nourishment in the warmth of the Summer Kitchen at The Ermatinger-Clergue National Historic Site, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. ‘Fridays by the Fire’, invites groups and individuals to come together for a wonderful dining experience, woven together with oral history of The Old Stone House. Historical re-enactors enrich the experience, offering soup & toasty biscuits from the ‘grist mill’.
The Summer Kitchen at ECNHS is open year round and guests will find warmth and comfort in front of the impressive hearth.
Brenda Ireland, guest speaker, shared a background on the history of Chocolate, and the significance that chocolate represented for the Aztecs, Mayans, and Spanish people. “The Aztecs believed that cacao seeds were the gift of Quetzalcoatl, the God of wisdom, and the seeds had so much value they were used as a form of currency. Originally prepared only as a drink, chocolate was served as a bitter, frothy liquid, mixed with spices, wine or corn puree. It was believed to have aphrodisiac powers and to give the drinker strength.” Brenda also brought chocolate samples with her, incorporating some of the spices that would have been used during that time.
Etymologists trace the origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which referred to a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. The Latin name for the cacao tree, Theobroma cacao, means “food of the gods.” Both the Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical, or even divine, properties, suitable for use in the most sacred rituals of birth, marriage and death.
“It’s hard to pin down exactly when chocolate was born, but it’s clear that it was cherished from the start. For several centuries in pre-modern Latin America, cacao beans were considered valuable enough to use as currency. One bean could be traded for a tamale, while 100 beans could purchase a good turkey hen, according to a 16th-century Aztec document.” (from the book, The Chocolate Connoisseur by Chloe Doutre-Roussel)
By the 17th century, chocolate was a fashionable drink throughout Europe, believed to have nutritious, medicinal and even aphrodisiac properties (it’s rumored that Casanova was especially fond of the stuff). But it remained largely a privilege of the rich until the invention of the steam engine made mass production possible in the late 1700s.
The creation of the first modern chocolate bar is credited to Joseph Fry, who in 1847 discovered that he could make a moldable chocolate paste by adding melted cacao butter back into Dutch cocoa.
A very happy birthday was celebrated by Cynthia Suhay, who shared that she is in her 80th year. A collective “Happy Birthday to Cynthia” was lifted in song.
Friday’s by the Fire, which often sells out, runs throughout the winter in January,
February, and March beginning at 11:45 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
February 12 – That’s Amore!: French Onion
February 19 – Guess What?: Mock Turtle
February 26 – Surviving Winter: Corn Chowder
March 4 – Spring Seeds: Bean Soup
March 11 – Say What?: Cream of Potato
March 18 – Sticky Situation: Beans & Bannock
March 25 – Closed (Good Friday)
April 1 – Fiddlehead Fools: Cream of Broccoli
Tickets: $12 (includes HST) – Soup, biscuit, dessert and beverage.
ECNHS has a full schedule planned for Family Day events on Monday, Feb. 15th, and include a #ShareTheChair Campaign.
‘ Family fun for everyone including treats on hearth for testing and interaction with Coureur du Bois and Voyaguer re-enactors. Muster up and join the fun with the 1812 British Military RNR. Our friends at Parks Canada will be joining us with their #ShareTheChair campaign. Enjoy some Heritage Hot Chocolate on one of their big red chairs, take a photo and share on social media. The Heritage Discovery Centre and the Ermatinger Old Stone House will be open to tour and historical re-enactors will provide you with a unique hands-on experience. The Voyageur Trading Post Gift Shop will also be open to buy your favourite items.’ CLICK HERE
Call to reserve your spot for ‘Fridays by the Fire’ at 705-759-5443
or e-mail to: [email protected]