“Chocolate knows no boundaries; speaks all languages; comes in all sizes; is woven through many cultures and disciplines … it impacts mood, health, and economics, and it is a part of our lives from early childhood through the elderly years.” — Herman A. Berliner (Economist and Educator)
In preparation for a chocolate tasting program, I delved into all things chocolate. I traveled around the world, into laboratories and bakeries, and through a tour of the senses. It was a dizzying, yet undeniably enlightening, journey. I learned that this delightful treat has a colorful and sometimes dark history. I learned chocolate is powerful force in the economies of several countries. I learned that rainforests are vital to the continued existence of chocolate. I learned that chocolate is science in action. I learned that tasting chocolate uses all the senses. There were many more nuanced lessons that I absorbed but couldn’t necessarily recall on demand. This is how any search for knowledge works, at least for me.
I could pontificate upon the many things I’ve learned, but I much rather have a little fun. Let me challenge you with a little chocolate trivia.
To check your answers you can read all the fabulous books featured below, or you can wait for the answers to be revealed in Savour: Chocolate Tasting, an explanation of how to use all five senses to find your best chocolate(s)….I, for one, can never be satisfied with only one type of chocolate.
Chocolate by Dom Ramsey
This book is by far the best all-in-one resource. It has the nitty-gritty on the agriculture, geography, processing, selection, and tasting of chocolate. As is the case with most DK books it is full of beautiful illustrations and well placed text. This books saves the best for last with a section entitled ENJOY. Enjoy is 49 pages of recipes and beautiful photos of the finished product you, the reader, can make at home. And if the finished product doesn’t look like the beautiful picture, that’s okay. In the end, it’s all about the chocolate.
Chocolate: Sweet Science and Dark Secrets of the World’s Favorite Treat by Kay Frydenborg
I have to confess the “dark secrets” made a bigger impact on me than the “sweet science.” This book is weighted on either end by the history and future of chocolate. The book opens on April 25, 1947 with four little boys who discover their beloved chocolate bars have risen from 5 cents to 8. The boys organized a strike, and although it was ultimately unsuccessful, it drove home the point that “life without chocolate had become unthinkable.” This rolls right into an August 1502 story about Columbus, in which he observes that the Native Americans he has seized are placing great importance on something he describes as “strange-looking almonds.” What follows is a succinct but engaging narrative of the history and science of chocolate. The book culminates in a segment titled Chocolate Rainforests and discusses how chocolate might help save Rainforests.
Chocolate: Riches from the Rainforest by Robert Burleigh
This next book, part of our children’s collection, is recommended for readers eight and older. It has many of the elements of the previous two books, in a much more condensed fashion. What makes this book stand out is the art and layout. The book uses geometric shapes, rich colors and a blend of photos, historical artwork and nostalgic ads to keep the reader engaged. Even the font is color coordinated and varied for impact. My favorite factoid from this book is that chocolate has traveled from the North Pole to Outer Space and been present in both WWI and WWII as a necessary ration.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of books, rather the core of what was used for the Trivia in this blog and what was featured in our program last year. Be sure to follow up for more great chocolate related reads in Savour: Chocolate Tasting.
“Chocolate is a perfect food, as wholesome as it is delicious, a beneficent restorer of exhausted power…it is the best friend of those engaged in literary pursuits.” — Justus Von Liebig 1803-1873 (German Chemist)
Formats Available: Book
Article by Angel, Bon Air Branch