The first time Maricel Presilla tasted cocoa from her grandmother's farm in eastern Cuba, she expected the papaya-looking fruit to be full of Hershey kisses. Instead she saw lumpy, tan-colored seeds in a sticky, sweet-tart ivory pulp that reminded her of lychees, and it didn't even smell like chocolate. In The New Taste of Chocolate
, Presilla follows the life of a cocoa pod from a sapling through harvest, fermentation, roasting, and production to arrive at what we all recognize as chocolate. Formally trained in cultural anthropology, Presilla relates the history of chocolate from even before the Aztecs. With attention to detail, she gives an overview of cocoa plantations and their farming practices and the different strains of true cocoa, Theobroma cacao
. About two dozen unusual, interesting recipes follow, each by a different chef or pastry chef. Wayne Brachman's Pecan-Guaranda Chocolate Tart with Mango and Papaya reminds us of cocoa's tropical roots, while Pierre Hermé's Chocolate Croquettes with Coconut, Pistachio, and Pearl Tapioca Sauce are pure elegance. You'll never look at chocolate the same way again. --Leora Y. Bloom
From Publishers Weekly
Presilla, a marketing consultant for a Latin American chocolate producer, explains the history, science and production of what many consider the world's most delectable snack. Guiding readers into the Latin American tropics for an extended look at Theobroma cacao, the "source of every chocolate bar and truffle ever made," Presilla also offers a primer on cacao farming, historical tidbits (e.g., Europeans used to flavor chocolate with aromatics like rosewater and ambergris) and a lesson on chocolate appreciation for would-be connoisseurs. Chocolate fiends in search of instant gratification should flip to the last chapter, a sampling of recipes that includes noted pastry chef Laurent Tourondel's heavenly Two-Toned Candied Cacao Beans Dipped in Chocolate and a recipe dating from the Italian Renaissance for Chocolate Jasmine Ice Cream. However, while some of the writing is wonderfully evocative (cacao pods are compared to "parrots and macaws perched on trees"), much of it is verbose ("The stars of the Marper experiment were several lines of IMCs from the Iquitos Maranon River Area, and the Peruvian Scavinas, Nanay, and Parinari selections"). And while industry professionals may lap up the sections with such titles as "Imperial College Selections 1 to 100," most lay people will find such morsels unappetizing. That's a pity, since on the whole Presilla's is a useful reference work that will appeal to anyone with an interest in artisanal foods and their production. Color photos not seen by PW. (May)Forecast: Chocolate has so many passionate enthusiasts that this book could attract attention, especially if it gets enough advertising. Unfortunately, since the book's primary potential is as an impulse buy or a gift item, it has not been blessed with a catchy title or cover.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.