Monday, July 16, 2012

Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light by Mort Rosenblum

Have you been wondering when I would EVER finish my next book for the summer reading challenge? Well, I have too, but after many snatched moments of reading, renewals, and returning the book to the library prematurely (and rescuing it two days later), I have finally finished reading Mort Rosenblum's biography of the world's most beloved food.

Photo courtesy of Everjean
The reason I took so long with this book certainly had nothing to do with hating it. I loved every second of Rosenblum's story of chocolate. He covered pretty much everything a layman could possibly want to know about the chocolate world, from cacao farms to the finished final products and the companies that sell them. The business of chocolate is a fascinating one.

I chose this book for the "pretty cover" category. I found it while in the library looking for a biography of Hemingway, and I happened to wander over to the section on (non-cookbook) food non-fiction. (I had no idea that section existed. I think I could live there...)

Of course, what first attracted me was the giant letters on the spine that read CHOCOLATE. But it wasn't just the subject matter; once I took the book down from the shelf, I saw the sophisticated cover with pale blue vertical stripes, brown and gold lettering, and a delicate drawing, outlined in gold, of cacao pods, cocoa beans, and a chocolate bar. And, of course, the clever subtitle. There were no rave reviews splashed across the cover demanding that the reader open the book or photos of the author scarfing down chocolate. Just the blue stripes with the hints of gold, seeming to say indifferently, "Open and read if you can possibly measure up to the level of sophistication required to appreciate me, but I'm certainly not going to beg."

I snatched that book right off the shelf.

This book fairly made me want to be a chocolate snob. I wanted to taste good chocolate--and according to the book, that's not just chocolate from Switzerland or Belgium (actually, according to the author, there are few good chocolatiers in Switzerland anymore, and the best chocolate is made in France. Oh, my beloved France, I knew we had a connection). You have to get it from a good chocolatier who knows his stuff. And Rosenblum had very particular ideas on which chocolatiers are the best.

Photo courtesy of Everjean
Well, I'll probably never become as snobbish as Rosenblum and his many friends in the chocolate business. I hope I never turn up my nose at the plain grocery store chocolate I grew up with. But I would like to learn to appreciate the fine nuances of really great chocolate, made by masters. I would like to understand the beauty I would be dealing with.

When I went back to the library to retrieve the book the first time, it hadn't been reshelved yet, but I grabbed a guide to chocolate tasting off the shelf. Never too early to start learning.

And a couple days ago, I had my very own CHOCOLATE TASTING. (Yes, the caps are necessary.) Quite the experience. I think I want a job as a chocolate critic.

Just kidding, but I really did have a chocolate tasting. I took notes and everything.

So, that is what you have to look forward to...the results of my chocolate tasting!

There isn't a lot more to say about this book. I recommend it to everyone who is interested in chocolate. You will discover a world you never knew existed and you will crave chocolate every moment of it.

1 comment:

  1. I've been curious for a while about how to tell what chocolate is "good chocolate." Some of it is definitely more expensive, but I don't like to assume that the price automatically determines whether it's good. You'll have to tell me what chocolate I should be trying!