Friday, February 20, 2009

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

This book was on the staff picks on our local library website, so I thought I would give it a try. Oh. My.

I hate finding out that I'm missing out on something. I hate hearing that Hershey candy bars are mostly sugar and crap and not much in it is actually chocolate. I hate hearing that the "good" stuff costs over $20.00 a pound, or that it's hard to find in America. What? The world capital of free market trade not have EVERYTHING available for sale? Sacrilege! However...

I love chocolate, even though my experience of chocolate may, to the author's view, be just a shadow of what REAL chocolate is. I wanted so badly to taste what he was describing in his journey to learn about how chocolate is grown, processed, created into works of art or miniature melt-in-your-mouth forays into decadence. Rosenblum's favorite chocolatiers are French but he found others in other countries that could come close. I had never heard of chocolate being combined with some of the flavors he found: flowers, tobacco, chipotle, curry, just about anything you could think of.

I have to admit I have problems with my weight, and the chapter about the health benefits of dark chocolate, if it has a low sugar content, can actually be good for you made me hopeful that maybe I wouldn't have to kick my chocolate addiction to lose unnecessary pounds. Of course, the scientists he mentioned in the book all hedge their bets and say the research is only in the beginning stages, and you shouldn't gorge yourself on the stuff. That's where I have the problem. I would most likely eat too much. However, I'm not really a dark chocolate fan. But maybe if I could get myself to just eat dark chocolate, the bitterness would discourage me from gorging. I might be able to limit my intake. Or not.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your point of view, the stuff the author likes commands high prices - not the kind of thing I can take lightly being a SAHM trying to raise four kids on my husband's income. We have to watch our budget like hawks. There is no room for luxuries like this. My chances to becoming addicted to the good stuff is minimal.

My last hope remains in the chapter on Nutella. Apparently kids in Western Europe know all about it. I've seen it in the grocery store, but have never tried it. It's supposed to be a hazelnut/chocolate spread that makes peanut butter seem like glue. The author's professional chocolate tasting friend loved the stuff. I certainly don't want to start another addiction, but perhaps I can get away with one jar of Nutella. I'll just have to hide it from the kids until it's almost empty.

I would certainly recommend the book to any self medicated chocoholic. It's the kind of nonfiction I like: not too dry, a story-like narration with enough humor to make the author a real person. Bon apetit

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