Daalder's Chocolates

Daalder's Chocolates

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by Philibert Schogt
     
 

Joop Daalder, Dutch immigrant, has been an outsider from the first. Raised in a family of intellectuals and musicians, for which food was of no interest, he developed his taste buds on the sly, finding his vocation and true happiness as an apprentice to master-chocolatier Sorel in France. Our story begins years later, with Joop a long-time, celebrated chocolatier

Overview

Joop Daalder, Dutch immigrant, has been an outsider from the first. Raised in a family of intellectuals and musicians, for which food was of no interest, he developed his taste buds on the sly, finding his vocation and true happiness as an apprentice to master-chocolatier Sorel in France. Our story begins years later, with Joop a long-time, celebrated chocolatier in Toronto. Then a super-deli is built next to his shop where three trendy "chocolatiers" steal his clients. The last straw is when the deli's car park is expanded and his shop has to be destroyed. Joop fights against it, alienating his wife and incurring the mockery of his son. In his search for perfection, Daalder's Chocolates is the fascinating tale of the bittersweet life of a real connoisseur.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Dutch novelist Schogt follows up The Wild Numbers with this tale of a chocolatier knight-errant cast adrift in an increasingly corporatized, mass-produced universe. Joop Daalder, an elderly Dutch perfectionist and all-around crab, is forced to close his beloved chocolate shop in the face of competition from a corporate behemoth and its trio of tattooed and pierced "rebel" chocolatiers. Flash back to Joop growing up the unloved baby of a musically oriented bourgeois family that has little patience for his culinary pursuits. On a class trip to France, Joop stumbles into a chocolate shop and discovers his calling. From France we go back to Holland and then on to Toronto, where Joop and his wife, Emma, realize their dream of opening their own shop. Entire decades vanish as quickly as they have appeared; Joop's unpleasantness is a constant, with Schogt using him to take shots at the barbarism of everyday life in the Wal-Mart era. They aren't enough to carry the book, but they make reading it paradoxically sweeter. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
An outsider in his intellectual, musical family, Joop Daalder finds his calling during a chance meeting while studying in France. He promptly drops his studies in art history to become apprentice to an eccentric chocolatier. After struggling for years, he migrates to Toronto and becomes a success, at least for awhile. Throughout it all, he refuses to compromise his standards and scoffs at mediocrity. Culture clashes (Dutch/French, European/North American) as well as misunderstandings between generations are themes throughout. The book's middle section is the most engaging, as we sympathize with Joop's early struggles and follow his sweet romance with the long-suffering Emma. But his increasingly cold and selfish behavior may turn off some readers. It's all to a purpose, though, and the book comes to a satisfying conclusion. Schogt's mouth-watering descriptions may make you crave fine chocolates, so keep a box handy. Recommended for public libraries.-Christine DeZelar-Tiedman, Univ. of Minnesota Libs., Minneapolis Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Schogt's second novel (The Wild Numbers, 2000) concerns a chocolate-maker who pursues perfection in his candies with the same monomaniacal drive as any great artist. Joop Daalder's small chocolate shop in Toronto faces demolition to make way for a mega-grocery. Angry and embittered, Joop sees market-driven mediocrity destroying his pursuit of unbending excellence. That effort has shaped his life, which Schogt traces from Joop's earliest childhood in Holland as the unmusical, non-academic and mostly ignored youngest child in a Dutch family of intellectuals. After Joop's first accidental taste of carefully prepared food, his own family's lack of interest in what they eat further alienates him. Later, biting into a ripe apricot on a family vacation, he realizes that "I taste, therefore I am." While at university, he travels to France, where he comes under the mentoring spell of a village candy-maker who cares less about pleasing his customers than perfecting his chocolate. But Joop must cut his apprenticeship short when his girlfriend Emma gets pregnant. The two soon marry. Back in Holland, he works for a premier chocolate confectioner, where he is disdainful of the company's shortcuts. After his father's death, Joop emigrates with his family to Canada and opens a shop that wins acclaim. Focused on his work, he largely ignores Emma and his son, who grows up as the American antithesis of all Joop values, just as Joop was the antithesis of his parents' values. Is Joop an arrogant fool or an artist willing to sacrifice everything for his ideals? With the demise of his shop, Joop recognizes the emotional cost to himself and his family. His late attempt to connect to his wife and grandchildrendemands the same energy he put into his candy-making. Schogt writes about the price of art, but also about socioeconomics, alienation, family and love. As rich and bittersweet as the best of Daalder's creations.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781560257318
Publisher:
Avalon Publishing Group
Publication date:
10/10/2005
Pages:
322
Product dimensions:
5.58(w) x 13.40(h) x 0.88(d)

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Daalder's Chocolates 1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
RebekahLyn More than 1 year ago
I was rather disappointed in this book. After reading it I am left wondering what it was about this book that made me look at it on two or three different occasions before purchasing it. It is the story of an aging chocolatier that starts out at the end of his career and then flashes back to how he got to this point. I found myself rather annoyed with the main character, Joop Daalder, and his selfishness. I usually enjoy reading foreign authors so that I can get a view on other cultures through their own eyes, but this one just didn't meet my expectations.