Thursday, December 06, 2007

Chocolate: A Bittersweet Story of Dark and Light

In this scintillating narrative, acclaimed foodie Mort Rosenblum delves into the complex world of chocolate. From mole poblano — chili-laced gift of the gods, 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.

Yes, our kind is everywhere... I'm a foodie, too. I watch the Food Network like it's porn. Seriously, have you seen Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver, watched their nimble fingers, their deft touch as they make the stuff that dreams are made of? Delicious food, subtly prepared, engages all the senses, just like good sex. And like sex, most of us have a particular twist, a certain something that sets us over the edge. My particular kink is chocolate.... smooth, silky, sweet, or slightly bitter. I can take a nibble and slowly let it dissolve on my tongue, and the rush of flavor — flower petal/sugar/dark woods/midnight — overwhelms me.

And I'm not alone either; check out Milt Rosenblum's odyssey with my beloved. But before you do, I want to let you in on the fact that Chocolate is no mere confection. Rosenblum does offer an engaging travelogue featuring the voluptuous substance as the centerpiece.

But it's also a character study of of the people who absolutely live for the perfect cacao high. There's Chloe Doutre-Roussel, the chocolate doyenne, who by force of will, expert knowledge, and her own Gallic brand of sexiness, was able to convince the Brits to augment that waxy brick of theirs with glorious French confiserie. They couldn't resist her blandishments, despite years of proffering that insult as a treat to an unknowing populace.

Then there's Claudio da Principe, whose obsession with growing the best bean and to create a fair trade chocolate finca led him to a South American pilgrimage; an odyssey of intrigue, duplicity and greed worthy of Herzog and Aguirre the Wrath of God. Shot through this confection of a book is also a fascinating micro history of how the Old World "conquered" the "New" World.

Early in the book, which is for me one of the most potent descriptions, Rosenblum pays homage in Oaxaca at the altar of Estela Luna. He lovingly describes her comida casera and her personal domain where she holds court as chef, priestess, and historian, conjuring up mole exquisito and making the point that Mexico was not conquered after all.

And there is the redoubtable Mr. Rosenblum himself, intrepid explorer, traveling the globe for that ultimate high. Ah, such sacrifice in the pursuit of knowledge...


News You Can Use

La Tremenda herself, Michele Serros, will be reading from her newest novel, Scandalosa.

Sunday, December, 8th 3pm
Borders 8861 Washington Boulevard, Pico Rivera, CA

Gente, get out there and get the book!

Lisa Alvarado

1 comment:

An Xiao said...

Mmmm.. I will need to check this book out. Chocolate is my beloved as well. I do hope we can share!