Snow Day (Sort of) in the Ville and Hot Chocolate History

A lifetime in Louisville has taught me that sometimes school is cancelled at even the threat of snow, and that you’d better stock up on bread and milk before they sell out at the Kroger. Experience as a mom has taught me to buy lots of kid snacks, hot chocolate supplies, and bourbon, too.

True to form, most schools in Louisville were cancelled today–but ours wasn’t. I didn’t let the girls know that some kids were out of school (even their little sister didn’t have preschool). I love a snow day as much as the next girl, but when your school doesn’t have buses and most kids live in the neighborhood, there’s really no reason to cancel for a dusting. I imagine it was a fun school day for them–looking out the window at the falling snow, playing on the playground with their friends, and wondering whether there would be an early dismissal–which there was. School let out right after lunch.

 

When the big girls got home, Beatrice and Eloise went out to play in the snow while Anne Miriam went to the coffee shop with her friends.

After playing in the snow, everyone came inside to sit in front of the fire, watch movies, and drink hot chocolate. I like to make hot chocolate by chopping a semisweet Ghirardelli bar and whisking it in hot milk, then cooling it with a little cream and topping it with marshmallows.

The Spode mugs stay out all winter for our family’s hot chocolate needs.
Eloise enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate while watching a My Little Pony Equestria Girls movie

Acquiring chocolate wasn’t always so easy as hitting up the Kroger baking aisle. When it was introduced to Europe by Spanish explorers, it was an expensive luxury affordable only to aristocrats. There was much ritual involved in preparation, and just as the introduction of tea led to lovely tea tables and porcelain tea sets, the chocolate pot was born. Tall silver or porcelain chocolate pots had spouts at the top. Cacao beans were melted in hot water before sugar and milk were added to the pot; the mixture was then frothed with a molinet, a swizzle stick attached to a finial through a hole in the lid of the chocolate pot.

The Anxiety by Jean Baptiste Le Prince depicts a woman in an opulently draped bed,with a chocolate pot on the table nearby.
The Family of the Duke of Penthièvre, by Jean Baptiste Charpentier, is also called La Tasse de Chocolat. Central to the composition is the Princesse de Lamballe, who holds a lovely porcelain chocolate cup in one hand and feeds her little dog with the other.
This lovely 18th century French chocolate pot from La Courtille, now at the Met, would add elegance and grace to any snow day in Versailles or Louisville.

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