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FRENCH SWITZERLAND


The Sweet Life:


Story by Lindsey Holland Photos by Alison Smith


The smell of chocolate gently wafts into the noses of those


who step off a train in the town of Broc, home of the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory. Switzerland, renowned for producing high-quality chocolate, has a long-standing tradition of making the delightful sweet treats. The tradition dates back


to the 16th century when chocolate


first came to


Europe. At the time of the Aztecs, chocolate was said to be unsuitable for women and children and reserved for the elite. Monika Schär, a member of Chocosuisse, the association of Swiss chocolate manufacturers, said chocolate was once a luxury product for the upper class. In 1875 Daniel Peter took


the milk from his home country of Switzerland and combined it with chocolate, thus inventing milk chocolate. The


original, hand-written


recipe by Peter is housed at the Maison Cailler factory. In the 19th century, chocolate began being manufactured competitively and was no longer reserved for the elite. The chocolate factory of Maison Cailler merged with Nestlè and was able to survive the severe economic crisis of the 1930s.


Top: During the tour visitors learn about production when the company was young and the many different varieties of chocolates they make. Above: Maison Cailler uses a blend of many different cocoa beans from around the world to create their chocolate.


The chocolate tour at the factory of Maison Cailler takes


visitors on an animated adventure that explains the history of cocoa beans, chocolate and


the history of Maison


Cailler. Cocoa beans flourish in climates like those of Brazil and Southeast Asia. Maison Cailler plants one million cocoa trees a year in these climates, creating more return for the local farmers and, in turn, for themselves. Silvano Nobs, a chocolate


expert at Maison Cailler, said he believes Swiss chocolate differs from all other chocolates because of the quality. “It takes a lot of knowledge to


create chocolate,” he said. “It’s a lot of diff erent steps. It needs careful attention. If you get it right, you have a really nice chocolate. I think in some other countries people don’t want to spend so much money on their chocolate.” Nobs


said if the particles


such as the crystal sugars in the chocolate are below 20 micrometers,


they won’t


be felt by consumers who eat the chocolate. He said


this is quite expensive to do, but makes for fine chocolate. Nobs said people often become spoiled by fine chocolate and no longer wish to consume lower quality chocolate.


ALPINE LIVING 2011 | 111


The tradition of Swiss chocolate


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