Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

Overview

The delectable journey into the world of chocolate—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...

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Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

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Overview

The delectable journey into the world of chocolate—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 an intriguing foray into this "food of the gods."

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Editorial Reviews

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: 9780786278343
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/2005
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 504
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.09 (d)

Meet the Author

Mort Rosenblum was a special correspondent to the Associated Press and an editor of the International Herald Tribune. He is the author of, most recently, A Goose in Toulouse and Olives (both FSG). He lives in Paris, France.

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