Saturday, March 10, 2018

Book Review--Mort Rosenblum's "Chocolate"

A good friend of mine found a copy of the following book at a used-book store, which he then gave to me:
Rosenblum, Mort.  Chocolate:  A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light.  (North Point Press 2005).
Like The Secret History of Chocolate, by Michael and Sophie Coe, Rosenblum tries to give the reader a sense of the long history of chocolate, including some of the biology relating to the cacao plant.  But unlike the Coes, Mr. Rosenblum is not primarily interested in giving an encyclopedic history of the plant, or even in the story of its European adoption.  Instead he is interested in how chocolate is made today, and what makes the chocolate of the French, for example, "better" than the chocolate made by the Swiss or Belgians.  So he travels and visits chocolate makers, both mass market and exclusive, in over a half dozen countries on four different continents.

Mr. Rosenblum's conclusion?  The artisans do produce better chocolate.  But individual preferences, and mass marketing techniques, can and have created strong followings for even inferior products.  (He's not just looking at Hershey, either, though he devotes a generous amount of space to Hershey; its beginnings as well as the state of Hershey as of when this book was published.)

Chocolate is a fun and informative read.  If you are interested in the subject (and who is not, at least to some degree?), you should pick up your own used copy, or look for a copy at your local library.

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