New(s)

9 June 2015
Questions/Answers with Chocolate Author, Kay Frydenborg
frydenborg chocolateThe Chocolate Scientist is a (working) title to inspire the imagination, and served that purpose, while not doing justice, to Kay Frydenborg’s recently published Chocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets of the World’s Favorite Treat. Written with tween and teen interests in mind (but delicious for all readers), her work surveys the medical, social, cultural, economic, religious, geographic, scientific, and culinary history of how humanity takes advantage of theobroma cacao (the “chocolate tree”) and its criollo, forastero and trinitario beans.

Kirkus Reviews pronounced the book, “A deliciously informative, engaging and sweeping chronicle…;” and The San Francisco Book Review said, among other nice things, MORE…

2 June 2015
Chocolate Loves Science
Chocolate pleasures the palate, as it seduces the eyes. In print and on the internet. Which science journo John Bohannon took advantage of when he deliberately used bad science to try and break the internet (and point out to others why covering scientific studies should not be the same as spreading gossip) with the headline kidnapping claim that consuming chocolate can be a weight loss shortcut.

In addition to highlighting gullibility and dream fulfillment yearnings, MORE…

20 April 2015
Don’t Hit Them, Eat the (Chocolate) Books
chocolate booksMuch can be said about chocolate as the hook upon which to hang a narrative. For non-fiction it might be the big bang for a review of issues arising from an incident of killing bears in New Hampshire, or destroying monkey habitats in the Cote d’Ivoire. The cacao pod can also germinate into a policy discussion on international trade as Canada and Mexico currently threaten a war using US chocolate as a hostage. It may also support an economics case study as in the case of how Venezuela’s President Maduro screws up Venezuela’s cocoa trade as he also dissolves the positives in the remainder of his country’s economy.

Or it could be the genesis for fiction. Recently, proving that powdered cocoa actually can expire, an Italian granny poisoned famiglia by serving from a package more than 30 years old. MORE…

21 March 2015
Savor the Small Chocolate Bites
SwirlsOne small chocolate taste is never enough. No matter the hype, no Platonic Ideal of the cocoa morsel has yet found its way from the mind of a master chocolatiere to taste buds of the supplicant. No satisfaction is found at the spectrum’s other end either: Those who worship the common prejudice that chocolate satiation can only come through quantitative consumption also want for satisfaction.

In the middle of the gamut — albeit, on a path searched with no guarantee of bliss — is the succession of small bites. Each tiny, delicate nosh of chocolate to be judged for the value it alone and through complement with the other bites adds to the overall aim of satiated pleasure.

How best to follow? MORE…

10 February 2015
VDay. Ruining Good Chocolate Via Stress for at Least 147 Years
dead cupidSTRESS! But a few days left until #VDay2015! What to do, to do, to do, etc. The whole 24 hours are supposed to be about “love” … and not (in polite society anyway) the kind between mother and child. The love we’re talking about is fed by CHOCOLATE!

The tradition is a fairly long one. Richard Cadbury began to mass produce the “chocolate box” 147 years ago. The first one featured a picture of daughter Cadbury’s daughter cuddling a kitten and the success led to first Valentine Day candy box — for what it is worth, VDay and Candy begins 496 CE when Pope Gelasius I claims 14 February for St. Valentine and then meanders its way through history. Paradoxically, Cadbury’s time was Victorian, so in keeping with the age the giving of purpley-wrapped candy was a way both to suggest and sublimate sexual urges.

If perchance you want MORE…

29 January 2015
Not Just VDay Junk Food
heart on chocolateIronically and regrettably, Valentines Day has become a day not so much to celebrate chocolate as to debase it as a commodity, a mostly forgettable but expected token. Transformed cacao pods gift wrapped in the celebration of a saint (or perhaps a massacre depending on how you are feeling about love this 14 February) is an expected part of the background for the holiday much like tinsel on a Yuletide tree. The result is that for most of the media and holiday participants, chocolate receives the same respect whether the offering is the drugstore staple, a $4.99 Whitman sampler, or an artisanal aspirer like the $260 To’Ak chocolate bar. (Not to insist or suggest that price defines the brown stuff, just that there are recognizable differences in both the quality and meaningfulness between these two particular chocolate offerings.)

It’s a sad state of affairs as, whatever one’s taste, chocolate MORE…

18 January 2015
Too Much Chocolate?
woman biting chocolate barPortland bean-to-bar maker Woodblock announced that 24 January will be the date when it holds the championship of chocolate chomping. Possibly a world record may be at stake.

As a public service (?) for potential contestants they posted training videos

MORE…

10 January 2015
What Could Make 2015 the Winter of Chocolate Poetry?

child google doodleWinter’s chill, somehow, seems the perfect weather for thinking about the intersection of poetry and chocolate. The elaborating wordplay of the genre, its ability to suggest so much in content while hacking away at excesses in form, should be a perfect match for the sublime sensuality of creatively developed and enhanced cacao.

Sadly, often it is not.

There is the oft cited Rita Dove’s Chocolate noted in previous posts, but given how beloved the subject, there is surprisingly little chocolate poetry of note. A recent Google found MORE…

13 December 2014
Happy (Chocolate) New Year…soon
chocolate ideal picSkipping over holiday pieces (at least for the time being) let’s talk 2015 and chocolate trends.

This fruit of the gods is a tried and true pleasure, a long-time luxury with an incredible history that has its ups and downs (as in “white” chocolate).

Still, somehow, great is not good enough. The search is always on for the new, the trendy, the tomorrow. Why? Something about human nature not worth trying to understand here. MORE…

22 November 2014
Someday It Won’t Be Thanksgiving Without Chocolate
chocolate turkeysTurkeys be damned, or at least brought down a peg. Thanksgiving turns out to be a holiday of a lamb … as in Mary Had a Little Lamb …

As in, we don’t have the 1621 Pilgrims and Wapanoag (who together likely savored venison, and certainly not the pictured chocolate turkey) to thank for the upcoming onslaught of overdoing both food and shopping. We should actually thank Godmother of Thanksgiving, Sara Josepha Hale, who is more famed as progenitor of the rhyming tale of the young miss and her wooly pet.

Hale, an editor of early 19th century magazines for New England gentlewomen, made it her mission to lobby for a national holiday for giving thanks, which President Lincoln decided in 1863 would be a useful way to mark the third year of America’s Civil War.

Regrettably, we can’t MORE…

29 October 2014
Halloween & National Chocolate Day DIY
chocolate skull cakeWhy is today National Chocolate Day? It just is, so have a bite (or two, at least) and celebrate! And consider this your three-day warning to Halloween, which also is celebrated with something of a chocolate patina.

Regrettably, H-Day is filled with tricks on kids, provided “alleged” treats that are “fun sized” drugstore chocolate bars. The adult who cares about kids — and we don’t imagine any other kind of reader — is caught between Scylla and Charybdis, either knowingly pandering with choco-crap or not satisfying kids, who don’t know better.

Admittedly, Cupid Alley Chocolatieres does not exist or aspire to anyone out of that moral conundrum. So, let us first distract MORE …

14 October 2014
Funeral Cakes, Death, Chocolate & More
chocolate skull cakeOctober is National Dessert Month, and also in its build up to Halloween, a celebration of death in various but still appetizing forms. What could be a better time than to talk about the choice between cake and death, as Eddie Izzard does,

or a touch more soberly to discuss (Chocolate) Funeral Cakes?

Not yet completely soberly. We note that serving a chocolate skull cake might work for some, but is for most people a goober of MORE…

28 September 2014
Beginning with Charlie and Chocolate
chocolate booksA new Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book cover appears gratuitous, not least because the book biz is hurting enough without shooting itself in the face with artwork.

But maybe it is genius?

Perhaps it’s a diabolical plan to spend a bit for a new, outrageous cover in the British market that is so off-putting as to inspire worldwide publicity and drive book buyers to pony up for other copies of Charlie? It may be the fiftieth anniversary of the title, but that doesn’t mean it can’t use a bit of push to get off the shelves. (Maybe instead of the ugly cover they should have made more of the lost chapter?)

In that spirit, MORE…

16 September 2014
#BitterChocolate
chocolate shreds balls sticksPerhaps the best piece of business wisdom — certainly an item from the Top 5, and yet usually ignored — is that a customer who presents a problem is one ready to buy more stuff and gives the company a chance to cement greater loyalty.*

In that spirit, and with the hope that #BitterChocolate will soon apply only to actual high-percentage-cocoa-solid and low-percentage-sugar “baking” chocolate, noted here are some current, saddening challenges for the world of chocolate. MORE…

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