Sunday, July 19, 2009
Oh la la! Chocolate STAMPS!
Now you have yet another option for enjoying French Chocolate when in Paris, or anywhere in France for that matter. Well, actually, inhaling chocolate.... not consuming it. The French Post Office, La Poste, has issued a series of postage stamps that commemorate chocolate and the fascinating history of chocolate in France. The image above is from the La Poste website which also notes that chocolate has been the currency of wealth, the food of the Gods, the favorite of royal courts and kings, and, in contemporary society, favored treats for children, adults and foodies all. These stamps commemorate the 400th anniversary of chocolate in France and they actually have a scent of fine chocolate imbued in the stamp.
The stamps were released in May at a philatelic enthusiasts gathering in Paris at the Grand Palais where La Poste actually built a temporary post office to celebrate the launch. Next, the stamps were released in Bayonne, arguably the home and source of the great French Chocolate tradition. Now they are available all over France. 10 stamps are 5.60 Euros. However, these are also designed to be collectibles.
Ten different designs depict noteworthy scenes in the history of chocolate, including portraits of the cocoa bean and of Cortes. Cortes is credited with being the first to bring the beans to Europe after tasting chocolate in Mexico. The stamps also feature a design that pays tribute to chocolate's arrival in Bayonne, in 1609. Thereby hangs a bittersweet tale. The chocolatiers that arrived in Bayonne were Jewish artisans fleeing persecution in Spain and Portugal. Bayonne proved a far more hospitable place and a grand French gastronomic tradition was born. Originally the food of royals and the very wealthy, chocolate became a beloved pleasure of quotidian folk in the 19th century. I and I'm sure you, are ever grateful!
Best places to buy the Chocolate Stamps without having to stand in line are the all-night Paris post office located on rue du Louvre (corner of Etienne Marcel) and on line at http://timbres.laposte.fr/