Gaining Respect for Chocolate.
Chocolate is easy to find. You would be hard pressed to find a gas station, supermarket or corner grocery that doesn’t stock chocolatey goods. It’s also in our vending machines, movie theaters and stadiums. It’s in ice-creams, cakes, sauces, moles and Ex-Lax. For a flavor that is so prevalent in our culture, and enjoyed by so many, it’s amazing that so few people know where it comes from, what it’s made from and how it’s made…or that what they’re eating might not really be chocolate, but just a taste-a-like substance.
I sure didn’t know where chocolate came from and I grew up in a household with magical amounts of chocolate. I’ve had a lifetime of watching someone temper chocolate. My dad was already a great baker by the time he started tempering chocolate. When I was 5 or 6, I watched him first wrestling with it, then speaking to it, then speaking with it. I remembered how tenuous the whole operation was. Thermometers and slabs. Humidity levels and crystallization. Anaphylaxis to water. A time sensitive and stressful event dealing with a temperamental and sensitive substance. Chocolate was delicate and required fatherly attention. Watching it be melted and remelted, shaped, poured, molded and transformed, I knew enough to know that chocolate was a kind of alchemy. I still didn’t know that it came from a fruit.
The knowledge I acquired in my formative years formed the basis of my chocolate appreciation, but I was still uninformed. I was eating chocolate, but I wasn’t tasting it. It wasn’t until I first saw cocoa nibs that I began to fully connect to the reality that chocolate was an agricultural product. It wasn’t until I had the crushed cocoa nib and raw sugar chocolate from Enric Rovira that I saw chocolate for the first time as what it was. It’s literally, to my recollection, a compressed cube of raw sugar and cocoa nibs. It’s consistency and flavor were a revelation.
Like many chocolate fans I’m chasing my pleasure and my curiosity. I want to know more about what I like but, more importantly, I want chocolate to show me what it has to offer. This site appears to be about reviewing chocolate, after all we’re talking about, writing about and assigning numbers to chocolate…but it’s really about tasting chocolate. Enjoying chocolate while we explore it.
Chocolate is more than just the product of beans. Chocolate is the product of people. To make it well takes time, costs money and demands skill and attention at every step. I’ve seen first hand how long it takes! When we eat chocolate we complete the cycle that started with one individual cutting one pod off of a tree. By bringing our full attention to chocolate when we taste it we pay homage to everyone involved. The flavor of chocolate is delicious because it’s the sum total of all of the processes and people it took to bring it to fruition.
Being the son of a chocolatier Chris has always enjoyed talking about chocolate as much as he loves eating it. He’s an artist and designer as well as a co-founder of the Chocolate Codex.