Did you know? Chocolate comes in many forms, and some have suggested that Israel has its own home-grown type – carob. I’m not sure I’d have Hershey adjust their recipe to carob, but the evergreen tree is a prominent one in our Judean lowlands.
This magnificent, local tree provides shade and nourishment. It’s the source of many tales in ancient biblical, talmudic and modern times. Rabbis sat in its shade, philosophers mentioned its ability to be first male and then change with time to female, bearing fruit that represents the best way to peace – simply by taking a long time!
Carob is also known as St. John’s bread, presumably what John the Apostle would’ve eaten in Second Temple times, as it grew naturally in his biblical surroundings.
The carob’s seeds are surprisingly important for commerce. In ancient times in the Middle East, gold and precious gems were weighed against the seeds of the carob tree. The system became standardized, with one carob, er, carat fixed at 0.2 grams. A pure Roman gold coin (called a solidus) equaled the weight of twenty four carob seeds. So, 24-carat gold became ‘the gold standard’, to this day. It’s a good thing nature is so reliably consistent!
But I’m still not sure about the chocolate.
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