BEST IELTS General Reading Test 414

BEST IELTS General Reading Test 414

IELTS General Reading Test

A Brief (and Tasty) History of Chocolate

The first records that chronicle the manufacture and consumption of chocolate originate from about 200-950 A.D., during the Classic Period of Mayan culture, Glyphs and ancient vessels provide the first evidence that the Theobroma cacao a tree that grows in the tropical rainforest – was harvested for its cacao seeds. The Mayan culture was spread over a vast Mesoamerican territory, covering what is now southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and part of El Salvador.

Not only were cacao trees harvested in the wild, but Mayans also grew the trees near their homes, in their own backyard gardens. After the cacao pods were picked, the seeds found inside were fermented and dried. The seeds would then be roasted over a fire, followed by grinding between two large stones. The resulting paste was mixed with water, chili peppers, cornmeal, and other ingredients. This final concoction made the cacao paste into a spicy, frothy, and rather bitter drink. With sugar unknown to the Mayans, if chocolate were sweetened at all, the sweetener would have been honey or flower nectar.

IELTS General Reading Test

The Mayan culture reached its zenith during the Classic period, followed by centuries of decline. By 1400, the Aztec empire dominated much of the Mesoamerican landscape. The Aztecs not only adopted the cacao seeds as a dietary staple but also as a form of currency. Cacao seeds were used to pay for items, and also given as tribute by conquered peoples. While in the Mayan culture many people could drink chocolate, at least occasionally, in Aztec culture the chocolate was reserved mostly for royalty, priests, and upper echelons of society.

The priests would also present cacao seeds as offerings to the gods, serving chocolate drinks during sacred ceremonies, one reason for our calling chocolate the ‘elixir of the gods. During the conquest of Mexico by the Spaniards in 1521, Europe became aware of chocolate for the first time. Spaniards had observed the Aztec royalty and priesthood making and drinking the dark concoction, and quickly came to like it as well.

IELTS General Reading Test

Cacao seeds were shipped to Spain in bulk, where the paste was mixed with spices like cinnamon and sugar, thus taking the edge off their bitterness. An expensive import, only the Spanish elite could afford to purchase chocolate, and for the next 300 years, chocolate was treated as a status symbol. Spain continued to import and manufacture its chocolate in secret for at least a hundred years before the rest of Europe caught wind of the delicious brew. Once out, chocolate became one of the greatest fads to hit the continent. Production of both cacao beans and sugar was a labor-intensive and time-consuming process.

To keep up with the demand for both items, many European countries set up plantations in the New World for the cultivation of these two crops. Wage laborers and slaves were used to grow the crops, then process them for export to and sale in Europe. It was not until the 1800s that mechanization speeded up the process of chocolate-making, making chocolate cheaper, more plentiful, and thus available to the public at large.

With the advent of the steam engine, cacao beans could be ground automatically. Bakers and chefs seized the opportunity to work with this suddenly available medium, establishing shops for the exclusive manufacture of chocolate, especially in countries like Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, and France. Lindt & Sprungli, of Switzerland, showed up in 1845, and Neuhaus Master Chocolate Makers, of Belgium, in 1857.

IELTS General Reading Test

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS AND/OR A NUMBER from the passage for each

YearReignFacts/Events
200-950 A.D15_________The earliest documentation of chocolate processing
1400Aztec Empire-used cacao seeds as food and 16________ -consumed mainly by 17________ and people from royal families and higher classes
1521
(+300 years)
Spain conquered Mexico-chocolate became known in 18_______
-addition of cinnamon and sugar reduced bitterness -a 19_______ due to the high cost
20________European Countries– 21___________ made chocolate affordable and easily available
-exclusive chocolate manufacturing shops established
IELTS General Reading Test

Travel is the best form of education

One learns a lot while serving in the United States Army. Foreing places, stressful conditions, and absence from home can foster an out-of-the-classroom education that crosses the boundary of the odd and unusual. Today, tales of strange sea creatures and haunted islands seem like a bad Sci-Fi marathon. But these were realities for one U.S. Army soldier stationed overseas at the thrun of the 20th century.

The art of journal keeping, letter writing and daily diary entries are becoming extinct as methods of memory management are changing in today’s technology driven world. What once was detailed on paper with memory fresh at hand is now posted on YouTube Today, blogs replace diary entries. Hand-written letters to loved ones are far slower than a quick Facebook ‘poke’ or a cell phone text message.

IELTS General Reading Test

Historians enjoy a deep appreciation for the written word. They savour the ability to see the world through the eyes of someone who never had satellite TV, the Internet or cell phone. Where explanation was not readily at hand in the strange lands of the Philippine Islands, the environment was ripe for adventure and the unknown. Placing one’s self in such situations fosters an education that cannot be duplicated in any classroom, book or blockbuster movie. A survivor of deadly and savage situations, Colonel Horace P. Hoobs recorded these well-documented experiences that lend a degree of depth to the retelling and re-imagining of Army history.

The odd education of Colonel Horace P. Hobbs is revealed in his voluminous personal papers held at the U.S. Army Military History Institute. A letter of August 16, 1918, soothes his wife while he is stationed in France during World War I. “You see it is the women who suffer most during a war. Now I know you and mother are worrying about me and I am living in the most luxurious comfort and perfect safety just now.”

IELTS General Reading Test

He goes to great lengths to explain his lush surroundings and the comfort he is experiencing, from bathing in a nearby brook to the size of his room and the servants who provide for him, as he attempts to console a worry-sick wife. It would seem, however, that Mrs Hobbs had been through worse as a military spouse.

Her husband was stationed in the Philippines during the insurrection from 1899 to 1901. Colonel Hobbs wrote a book from his collected journals and memoirs entitled, “Kris and Krag: Adventures among the Moros of the Southern Philippine Islands”. Among his many tales, the Colonel tells about a strange native custom on one of the small islands of taking their boats across a narrow strait to another island and returning before dark. They explained to him that the island was the home of the ‘wok-wok’, a powerful ghost who must be appeased with gifts of rice so they will not harm the people. Upon further inspection, the Army discovered the ‘wok-wok’ to be large apes.

IELTS General Reading Test

Another bizarre chapter in the Colonel’s education came when he was asked by some villagers to kill a sea creature which wreaked havoc among the people whenever they Slaughtered an animal for food. The blood would run into the water, and out would come the creature. The Colonel waited for the apparition to appear after a slaughter, and he was not disappointed. Upon further inspection he described the animal as being some kind of mix between an alligator and a crocodile, but one he had never seen before.

Experience in foreign places, blended with curiosity and a desire to learn, enabled Colon to obtain a far greater grasp of the world. These traits provided him with an education that the average person today cannot obtain from watching television or searching the web.

IELTS General Reading Test

Choose the correct letter, a, b, c or d.

22. What offers a non-traditional form of education?

A. Being away from home

B. Being in foreign countries

C. Situations that cause stress

D. All of the above

23. Historians enjoy the chance to see

A. Satellite TV.

B. The world through other’s eyes.

C. The world.

D. Popular documented experiences.

IELTS General Reading Test

24. While in France, the Colonel

A. Looked after his sick wife.

B. Lived with his wife.

C. Wrote letters to the U.S. Army Military History Institute,

D. Comforted his wife with his letters.

25. A sea creature would appear

A. Whenever the Colonel was in the village.

B. And make the Colonel disappointed.

C. When blood from a dead animal ran into the water.

D. And slaughter an animal.

IELTS General Reading Test

26. What traits helped a Colonel to get a good education?

A. A desire to travel to foreign places

B. Curiosity and a good grasp of the world

C. Watching TV and using the Internet 

D. Curiosity and a desire to learn

IELTS General Reading Test

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BEST IELTS General Reading Test 414

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IELTS General Reading Test

15. MAYAN (CULTURE)

16. CURRENCY

17. PRIESTS

18. EUROPE

19. STATUS SYMBOL

20. 1800S

21. MECHANISATION

22. D

23. B

24. D

25. C

26. D

IELTS General Reading Test

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