Humankind’s love affair with chocolate goes way back. In the early 1500’s, the first Spanish conquistadores to arrive in Mexico discovered the Aztecs enjoying chocolate as a beverage. They called it the drink of the gods—they had the right idea. But today I want to tell you about the chocolate that became part of Western history.
Domenico Ghirardelli was born in Italy in 1817. His merchant father apprenticed his son to a confectioner and spice importer. At the age of 20, Domenico moved to South America, changed his name to Domingo and went into business for himself. In Peru he opened a chocolate shop next door to an American piano maker named James Lick. Lick decided to leave Peru for California, arriving in San Francisco on January 11, 1848, just 13 days before gold was discovered at Sutter’s Mill.
Lick had brought with him 600 pounds of Ghirardelli’s chocolate. Soon he wrote Ghirardelli that he’d sold all the chocolate and there was a big demand for more. Ghirardelli packed up and followed his friend to San Francisco.
Arriving in 1849, he prospected a while, then owned a general store. In 1852 he opened his confectionery now known as the Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. Early business was up and down, but by 1885 the company was importing 450,000 pounds of cocoa beans a year, as well as grinding spices and selling coffee, wine and liquor.
Chocolate was the mainstay of the business. The equipment to process the cocoa beans took up so much space that the business needed bigger quarters. After Ghirardelli retired in 1892, his sons purchased the square block in San Francisco presently known as Ghirardelli Square. Luckily it survived the 1906 earthquake and fire. It remains a major tourist attraction today, even though the chocolates are now made at a modern factory in San Leandro.
There’s no reference to chocolate in my March 2012 historical, THE LAWMAN’S VOW. But it does take place in northern California at the time Mr. Ghirardelli was starting up his business. Another connection—I fuel my writing brain by nibbling Ghirardelli’s bittersweet chocolate chips, so there’s a bit of Ghirardelli chocolate in every line of the book.
A MAN WITH A MISSION…
San Francisco Lawman Flynn O’Rourke swore he’d bring his sister’s killer to justice. So when suspect Aaron Cragun is identified, Flynn will do anything, even rent a boat and sail to Cragun’s remote home to find him. But Flynn doesn’t anticipate the storm that wrecks his boat, the injury that erases his memory…or the beautiful woman who rescues him.
Sweet Sylvie is loving and kind—and Aaron Cragun’s daughter. As Flynn’s memory returns, will the lawman keep his vow or allow himself to fall for the one woman forbidden to him?
What’s your favorite kind of chocolate? Today’s posts will be entered in a drawing for an autographed copy of THE LAWMAN’S VOW, and a special treat from Mr. Ghirardelli’s establishment.