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Chocolate Unwrapped: Taste & Enjoy the World's Finest Chocolate Hardcover – October 7, 2010
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The book opens with a 50-page introduction into the history and production of chocolate, complete with a how-to guide to tasting. This is followed by an alphabetical compendium of some 80 brands of chocolate from around the world, from Akesson's to Zotter. Each gets two pages, and from each brand one bar, 70% or nearest offer, is marked up with flavour notes where the author's main job as a wine critic shines through.
The first part is well written and contains lots of interesting facts, both from food science and history. Chocolate feels smooth, for instance, only if the particle size is 30 micrometres or less. I also learned that more than half the world production of cocoa beans comes from just two countries, namely Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire. And that the UK insisted on EU rules permitting up to 5% vegetable fat in "chocolate." Remember to read the list of ingredients before you buy any. The good news, though, is that the appreciation of real chocolate, made from fairly traded ingredients of well-defined origin, seems to be a growing trend around the world.
The list of chocolate brands is also surprisingly readable, thanks in part to the interesting mix of people who at some point of their life decide that their vocation is to produce chocolate.Read more ›
If you're among the latter, then you will find in these vividly illustrated, glossy pages all the information you need for a fuller appreciation of chocolate: where it comes from, how it is made, and how to taste it properly. What I like best about Evans's writing is that she manages to convey that fine chocolate should be appreciated like fine wine (her own area of expertise) without sounding pretentious -- she recognizes that her readers might want to become connoisseurs simply to enhance their own eating pleasure. My favorite moment comes when Evans is discussing the "fast method" for tasting chocolate ("look, listen, sniff"), and recommends learning how to do this in private, "without making it obvious to outsiders that one is doing a geeky tasting in one's head."
For the first group, the opening sixty pages will be a retelling of chocolate's history, geography, husbandry, ethics, and tasting guides. If there is such a thing as a chocolate studies canon, Evans bibliography captures it, and she has drawn heavily on the great chocolate writers: Sophie and Michael Coe (The True History of Chocolate), Joel Glenn Brenner (The Chocolate Wars; sold in the US as Emperors of Chocolate); Chloe Doutre-Roussel (The Chocolate Connoisseur); and Sara Jayne-Stanes (Chocolate: The Definitive Guide).Read more ›