Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Great Book of Chocolate: Book

Chocolate the exhibition developed by The Field Museum in Chicago has arrived in San Francisco. To the California Academy of Sciences to be exact. This is a great show for kids, with bites of science, history, archeology, sociology and lore. But to be honest I found it a little light on the basics. For example I was amazed to find they didn't cover the three types of cocoa beans. How could they have neglected to even mention criollo, forastero and trinitario beans? Worst of all, unless you visit on a Friday or a Saturday, you don't get any chocolate. Consider yourself warned and plan your trip to the museum accordingly.

While I enjoyed learning a bit more about the history of chocolate, especially about the European chocolate salons of the 1600's (it's time for a revival don't you think?) I truly enjoyed my time in the gift shop most of all. Not because I picked up some chocolates there, but because there I discovered David Lebovitz's The Great Book of Chocolate: The Chocolate Lover's Guide with Recipes.

I adore this book because David Lebovitz is just like me in his passion for chocolate. Not a snob or a know-it-all but someone who delights in chocolate in its many forms and seems willing to go to any length to learn more about the subject. The book is a real romp. Not just delectable recipes no matter what your tastes in chocolate, but also a diary of a week spent in a Belgian chocolate shop, and lists of his favorite chocolatiers, chocolate shops, and restaurants. It also has better history and scientific explanations than I found at the Academy...

Despite what a misguided magazine editor told me about being "so over chocolate", there can be no question, chocolate is back in popularity like never before. Restaurants are serving hot chocolate as dessert, manufacturers are producing more and more single origin varietals and tasting kits and the medical evidence that chocolate is good for you just keeps growing and growing. In addition to the book I recommend bookmarking David Lebovitz's blog, while he doesn't always talk about chocolate, his posts about eating and cooking in Paris will make your mouth water all the same.