Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

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A delectable journey into the world of chocolate—from manufacturing to marketing, French boutiques to American multinationals—by the award-winning author of Olives.

Science, over recent years, has confirmed what chocolate lovers have always known: the stuff is actually good for you. It's the Valentine's Day drug of choice, has more antioxidants than red wine, and triggers the same brain responses as falling in love. Nothing, in the end, can ...

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Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

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A delectable journey into the world of chocolate—from manufacturing to marketing, French boutiques to American multinationals—by the award-winning author of Olives.

Science, over recent years, has confirmed what chocolate lovers have always known: the stuff is actually good for you. It's the Valentine's Day drug of choice, has more antioxidants than red wine, and triggers the same brain responses as falling in love. Nothing, in the end, can stand up to chocolate as a basic fundament to human life.

In this scintillating narrative, acclaimed foodie Mort Rosenblum delves into the complex world of chocolate. From the mole poblano—chile-laced chicken with chocolate—of ancient Mexico to the contemporary French chocolatiers who produce the palets d'or—bite-sized, gold-flecked bricks of dark chocolate—to the vast empires of Hershey, Godiva, and Valrhona, Rosenblum follows the chocolate trail the world over. He visits cacao plantations, meets with growers, buyers, makers, and tasters, and investigates the dark side of the chocolate trade as well as the enduring appeal of its product.

Engaging, entertaining, and revealing, Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light is a fascinating foray into this "food of the gods."

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Olives: The Life and Lore of a Noble Frui:t

"Edifying...Pit by pit, his savory details add up." —Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, The New York Times

"Delicious...A blend of first-rate travel writing and first-rate food writing." —Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun

"Filled with history, lore, scandal, gossip, politics, recipes, health tips, and even Mafia intrigue, Olives is as perceptive as it is passionate." —Patricia Wells, author of Bistro Cooking and Trattoria

"Rosenblum writes with skill and passion. His enthusiasm is contagious when it comes to olive-related legend, lore, and anecdote." —Pauline Mayer, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Praise for A Goose in Toulouse and Other Culinary Adventures in France:

"A rollicking roll through the heart, myth, soul—-and belly—-of the land of 'Bon Appetit,' a century after Escoffier. More, please."—Molly O'Neill, The New York Times Magazine

"Scholarly, spritely, and mouth-watering." —Diane Johnson, author of Le Divorce

Publishers Weekly
Did the Aztecs discover chocolate? Do the Swiss make the world's best chocolate? Is Godiva chocolate worth its price? No, no and no, according to Francophilic foodie Rosenblum (Olives). Although he'd always considered himself a "chocolate ignoramus," after attending a fancy Parisian chocolate tasting he immerses himself in the world of professional chocolatiers. He researches texts on the history of chocolate for amusing anecdotes, but his forte is his knack for going out in the field and talking with the masters. Rosenblum lets the artists teach him how great chocolate is made and how to appreciate its qualities. He travels from the cacao growing fields of Ivory Coast to the kitchens of some of Mexico's finest chefs, from the refined workshops of Paris to the factories of Hershey, Pa. As he discovers, chocolates-candy bars, chocolate mints-are basically an industrial product, containing little cacao and unworthy of serious culinary interest. Real chocolate, however, like fine wine, can be absolutely sublime. Artisans who carefully select their cacao beans and process those beans with painstaking attention can craft exquisite chocolate with extremely complex aromas and flavors. Rosenblum's chatty book, which lacks an index or endnotes, may disappoint food researchers. But for that vast world of chocolate-lovers who'd like a book between their bars, this bonbon is sure to please. Line drawings. Agent, Geri Thoma. (Feb.) Forecast: This treat of a book could be a nice Valentine's Day seller. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This is the literary equivalent of a perfect palet d'or, the Bentley of dark chocolates, with each chapter offering a subtle, complex treat worth savoring. Winner of the James Beard Award for Olives, Rosenblum applies his journalistic tenacity and eye for detail to uncover the multilayered world of chocolate. Placing in-depth profiles of chocolate growers, buyers, producers, and consumers against a complex backdrop of social, cultural, political, and economic forces, Rosenblum circles the globe to find homemade mole sauce in Mexico, hobnob with world-renowned purveyors of chocolate in France and Belgium, and visit the planned community of Hershey, PA. Recommended for all public libraries, as well as academic libraries supporting large undergraduate populations, programs in nutrition, and the culinary arts or with interests in the social and cultural history of food.-Courtney Greene, DePaul Univ., Chicago Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Once a self-confessed "chocolate ignoramus," James Beard Award-winner Rosenblum (A Goose in Toulouse, 2000, etc.) deftly delves into the secrets of the cacao bean. Chocolate is Michel Chaudun's passion, his life's work. A French fondeur with a corner store in Paris, he makes a mean mini-pave, or a couverture-coated cube of ganache, using only the finest of ingredients and top-secret methodologies. "I think above all it is a drug," he says of chocolate, "nicely seductive, which marks the sweet hours of our existence." What's not to love? Not only is chocolate healthy (despite its bad rap), with loads of antioxidants, but it contains phenylethylamine, the same excitement-inducing molecule released by the body when you're in love. It's so irresistible, in fact, that a recent want ad for a chocolate taster at London's Fortnum & Mason yielded a whopping 3,000 applicants within days. Chaudun, who believes there's only one right way to make chocolate, chastises industry behemoths like Mars and Nestle for cutting corners in their quest for profits, resulting in a vastly inferior product. (But "purists be damned," Rosenblum says. "Millions still revere a Hershey bar.") At the other end of the equation, as the author shows us in this thoughtful, thorough study, are cacao-plantation workers on Africa's Ivory Coast, plagued by civil war, corruption, and poverty, the vast majority of them having never even tasted chocolate. Rosenblum also examines the comical phenomenon of Nutella, Italy's chocolaty goo. When he asked a friend what the attraction was, she gave "one of those 'duh' looks. 'It's chocolate. Spreadable chocolate.' " The author makes a compelling case for chocolate's near-aphrodisiacalqualities in a wonderful, wide-ranging, expertly written book that practically dares readers to jet off to the City of Light for a tour of its sweetshops. As rich and satisfying as a chocolate cheesecake. Agent: Geri Thomas/Elaine Markson Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780865476356
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 2/15/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Mort Rosenblum is a special correspondent to the Associated Press, and a former editor of the International Herald Tribune. He is the author of, most recently, Olives (FSG, 1996). He lives in Paris.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2005

    A Delightful Quest Full of Facts and Fun

    By Bill Marsano. Mort Rosenblum has at last seen the error of his ways. After his award-winning 'Olives' of a few years ago and then a gastronomical ramble called 'A Goose in Toulouse,' he recognized that his day job as an Associated Press correspondent was a waste of his time and, more important, his wide-ranging talent and generous sensibility. And so with no wars or economic calamities to deal with he has devoted himself to chocolate, and we should be grateful for that, and for this book. Whether you're an initiate of such dark secrets as Italy's magnificent newcomer, Amedei, or mired in the outer darkness of Hershey's and the grossly overrated Godiva, you will find your mouth watering with the very first chapter. Rosenblum throws himself into his subject and takes the reader with him on extraordinary journeys: to Oxaca, Mexico, to plumb the secrets of mole sauce (which is traditionally for turkey, not chicken, and is supposed to be made in platoon-feeding quantities. To Sao Tome and Principe, two islands so far out that Fernando Po (what?) is a near neighbor, where a mildly unhinged Italian is planning to rebuild a tradition of fine chocolate. To West Africa, where cacao growers who suffer from thieving governments and armed rebels took another blow when a half-witted BBC report accused them of using slave labor. To Belgium and Switzerland which, reputation to the contrary, produce mostly mass-market chocolate on an industrial scale. To England where (as usual) what they eat will scare your pants off. To the U.S., where we get the lowdown on Hershey and Mars but get good news, too, about Steve DeVries in Denver and Scharffen Berger in California: Both are moving steadily in the direction of the French. And they are not alone: Vere (pronounced 'vair-ray') just opened in New York City, offering fine chocolate made exclusively from rare a Ecuadorian variety. And of course Rosenblum takes us to France--all of chocolate-making France, not just Paris. France is where, Rosenblum says, chocolate reaches transcendence. Not only chocolate--the basic stuff of the plain, unadorned chocolate bar--but chocolates (note the plural), which are filled and frilled and decorated and molded. In short, they are confections or candies. Rosenblum takes us into the workshops and passions of chocolatiers who are as devoted and creative as any Michelin 3-star chefs. And just as independent and secretive. These artists would have fit right in at the Sun King's Versailles. There's other stuff here, and it's all good, rich, satisfying stuff: chocolate and health, chocolate 'addiction,' chocolate as an aphrodisiac, and the great enemy of chocolate-lovers everywhere: the cosmetics industry, which is buying up cocoa butter as fast as it can so women can smear it on their faces! As outrages go, that's surely among the worst, just as this book is surely among the best.--Bill Marsano is an award-winning writer and editor in New York. His T-shirt reads 'Just give me the chocolate and no one gets hurt.'

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    To whoever came in order to rp....

    Previous result...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013


    A mate would be nice *she walks to her cave*

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2013

    Sunwing to Coldclaw

    Yes, but i gtgtb. Basically, i wanted to reward you for fighting, so leave up a post that i can see tomorrow about what you would like. Ciao!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2012

    Raptorstar's Den

    The leaders den is a small cavern on the side of the mesa. A curtain of lichen is covering the enterance. Inside there is a small nest made of lambs ear and moss.

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