Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum.
Review by Chocolate-adorer and critic ('oh yes, please') J. Zimmerman

Chapters of Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

A delicious book and a lot of fun. The only problem with reading it is that I get CRAVINGS for chocolate. These are the chapters.

Chapter 1: The Gods' Breakfast.
Chocolate began with the Olmecs about three thousand years ago. The "almondlike cacao beans ... named Theobroma - elixir of the gods - are the basis of a $60 billion industry" with "about 15 million acres planted in cacao."
Initially the beans were fermented to dry the beans so they could be shipped without spoiling. However, fermentation is crucial to the final taste.

He makes these sweeping observations:

Chapter 2: Chocolat.
Patrick Roger, a MOF (meilleur ouvier de France).
Chloë Doutre-Roussel "is a chocolate lunatic. The French would call her une choco-dépendante, ... a chocoholic with class". She won the Fortnum & Mason position of 'chocolate taster' out of a pool of 3000 applicants.
Jacques Genin, Rosenblum's 'choice to provide' his 'stash of chocolate should' he 'become marooned on a desert island'.

Chapter 3: Origin of the Species.
Back to the Olmecs. "Cacao seeds were most likely brought to Central America during Preclassical Mayan times, betweeen 1500 B.C. and A.D. 200." Describes use of chocolate among the Mayans and Aztecs.

Chapter 4: Chocolate for Turkeys.
In Oxaca, Mexico, mole poblano is a chile-laced chocolate sauce served with chicken now (but traditionally for turkey). Recipes are usually for 40. It's made with chocolate and 27 (apparently a magic number) ingredients that vary with the cook and (it seems) what is at hand.

Chapter 5: The Bittersweetest Town on Earth.
Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Chapter 6: The Chocolate Coast.
Chocolate on the Ivory Coast in West Africa. 40% of the world's chocolate comes from here. Rosenblum investigates reports of child slavery in the cacao plantations, and concludes that the rumors have some basis but are greatly exaggerated.

Chapter 7: Claudio da Príncipe.
Restoring an abandoned cacao plantation on a West African island, "Claudio is Crocodile Dundee, Gandhi-style."

Chapter 8: Valrhona Valhalla.
Valrhona factory at Tain l'Hermitage (France). Obsessed about producing only the best chocolate. Makes 7,000 tons of chocolate per year, which is 1% of that made by the Swiss-based Barry Callebaut in France and Belgium. did present some of the most interesting stories in the book, Its representatives thrive on being rude:

(p.150) Richard Donnelly, who produces fine ganaches and pralinés at his shop in Santa Cruz, California, spends five figures a year buying Valrhona base. Once he telephones Valrhona's United States headquarters with a sensible technical question. "The guy told me that if I called myself a chocolatier," Donnelly told me, as much amused as outraged at such a fine example of French arrogance. "And he hung up on me."

One of my favorite stories is how the terrifying Chloë Doutre-Roussel" ignores the 'keep out' messages from Valrhona and climbs over the wall to get in - and not just once.

Valrhona's secrecy about its sources and methods make sense, though, when one considers the deceit of Cadbury's against Fry's.

Chapter 9: The French Masters.
See Rosenblum's book for his raves. In France, Rosenblum says, chocolate transcends us. This includes the unadorned chocolate bar as well as 'chocolates' filled, decorated, and molded as confections.

Chapter 10: Belgium: Hobbit Chocolate.
Rosenblum is not a fan, finding that it tends to have too much sugar.

Chapter 11: The Empress is All Clothes.
The story of Godiva chocolate, mostly seen through a smoke screen. Rosenblum is not a fan, writing

(p. 205) "Much of this tempting chocolate tasted to me as if someone dumped a lot of sugar into melted candlewax."

Chloë Doutre-Roussel tried unidentified, and reported "hints of an overfilled ashtray" before throwing the remains away.

Chapter 12: In the Land of Rose and Vile Creams.
Britain. Well, I like Cadbury's, Fry's, and Terry's, so I have no patience with Rosenblum's snobby attitude. Give me milk-chocolate fruit-and-nuts any day. But Rosenblum deigns to praise:

Chapter 13: Switzerland, and Beyond.
'Lindt can be one of the best price-per-pound itmes in anybody's supermarket. It is clean and consistent. ... But it is mass-market chocolate, with all the limitations of bigness.'
Mac Felchin is praised: 'It would be hard to give up Felchin's Maracaibo.'

Chapter 14: Where's the Nutella?
A little paen to Nutella, invented in Italy in W.W.II when chocolate was scarce but hazelnuts abounded; adored in Europe, even by Clöe.

Chapter 15: Body and Soul. The PR chapter - how chocolate is beneficial as long as you can avoid all that sugar.

Chapter 16: Chocolate Soldiers in the American Revolution.
Steve de Vries is described as a 'cocoa-flavored Will Rogers' who bought a chocolate factory in Mexico and conches in Hamburg (Germany), and shipped it all to Colorado.
John Scharffenberger is described as 'the reincarnation of Mr. Rogers'.
Michael Recchiuti buys the chocolate base; San Francisco.
Richard Donnelly buys the chocolate base; Santa Cruz.
Gary Guittardiuti buys the chocolate base; San Francisco.
But read his book to check out his many other spectacular tastings and suggestions.

Chapter 17: Camp Cacao.
Mort Rosenblum's final house-boat chocolate party on the Seine (Paris) with Claudio da Príncipe, Clöe , Jacques Genin, Steve de Vries.

Naughty and Nice Chocolate Witches and Wizards of
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light

Cadbury (British). An English Quaker chocolate firm. In early 1900s, entered a partnership with Cecil Fry to import cacao from South America. But Cadbury made secret deals with the growers to starve Fry and Sons of their supply of cacao.

Claudio da Príncipe: farmer; roaster. 'He prefers his chocolate rouch, flavorful, and straightforward.'

Clöe Doutre-Roussel: Contemporary chocolate expert. Had a dream job (beating out 3,000 competing applicants) at Fortnum and Mason's for a year but left after feeling unable to 'educate' the British palate. No surprise there - much as I love reading about chocolate, my preferences are quite different from Clöe's.

Michael Coe. Mesoamerican anthropologist. Author of The True History of Chocolate, based on the work of his wife, anthropologist Sophie Dobzhansky Coe.

Death by chocolate. In 1915, Heinrich Stollwerck, fell into a blending machine he had invented. It exploded while he adjusted it. He lost has balance and drowned in chocolate.

Fry and Sons (British): made better (less sugar, darker) chocolate than their rivals Cadbury with whom they entered into partnership in the early 1900s, only to be cheated by Cadbury, who made secret deals with the growers to starve Fry and Sons of their supply of cacao from South America.

Godiva (American; initially Belgian). "Artisan chocolate can quickly lose its quality when kicked into mass production" writes Rosenblum. This is just before he writes about his family company of Joseph Draps, who named his hand-made chocolates 'Godiva'. In the mid-1960s, Godiva was taken over by Campbell's soups.

Jacques Genin: Mort Rosenblum's pick as making 'the best' chocolates. Makes 'ganache and pralinés from Valrhona base.

John Scharffenberger: Berkeley. Makes 'what many Europeans consider to be the only really good chocolate in Amererica'. Makes blends, which gives his chocolate complexity; dismisses 'the fascination with single-origin chocolate as a fad' (p.272). Uses almost no sugar. "With chocolate, you just let heddonism take over. It's a matter of pleasure, a sort of Buddhist bon vivance." Does the whole process.

David Lebovitz: Contemporary chocolate writer; more experienced than Rosenblum and educates him. Author of "The Great Book of Chocolate", which is more useful than Rosenblum's book if you want instruction on making something with chocolate.

Lindt (Randolphe): Swiss. developed conching, the movement of a heavy roller through molten chocolate; "this breaks and blends the components while releasing acetic acid and other unwanted volatile elements".

Michel Chaudun: Paris, France. Another French fondeur with a passion for chocolate. He makes his mini-pave (couverture-coated cube of ganache) with the finest ingredients and (of course) top-secret methods.

Nestlé (Henri): Swiss; with Daniel Peter, combined milk with chocolate (by condensing the milk to eliminate the water, which previously prevented the combination of chocolate and milk).

Steve de Vries: 'a self-taught technician'. Challenges and retests the assumptions of chocolate making. Said that Michel Chaudun's 'hallowed chocolat aux éclats de fèves' 'overrated.'

Eric Schlosser : Contemporary food writer; similar approach (such as his Fast Food Nation), showing great interest in the economics and processes of a food business as well with taste of the product.

Stollwerck (German): The five Stollwerck brothers were "early masters of big chocolate" and large mechanization. One of the brothers, Heinrich Stollwerck, was a 1915 death by chocolate.

Valrhona (French): Specialists. Many say their chocolate is the best in the world. Some of their named blends:

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