Francesco Arisi. Il cioccolato: trattenimento ditirambico. Cremona: Pietro Ricchini. 1736.
In the spring of 2017, we acquired an extremely rare first edition of this text on chocolate comprised of two parts: a dithyrambic poem followed by thirty pages of scholarly annotations. Dithyrambic poetry was often used to sing praises to Dionysus, the god of wine and fertility. In this case, wine has been replaced by chocolate.
In his poetic study of chocolate, Francesco Arisi (1657-1743) begins by telling how chocolate was born in America; mentions chocolate’s uses and effects on the body; describes the social life around drinking hot chocolate; and how it shouldn’t be overused in food. The second half of the book contains Arisi’s glosses on the poem, providing bibliographical citations and commentary on other authors who have written about chocolate including various poets, doctors, and scientists. Only one additional copy is extant in the U.S., in Minneapolis.