Sunday, January 31, 2010

Allure of Chocolate

Last month, my fellow strawhatter, “A”, asked if I would be interested in attending a talk on chocolate. I have a confession to make:

My name is OldRoses and I am a chocoholic.

Is there such a thing as “Chocoholics Anonymous?” If there is, I don’t want to know. I love my chocolate too much. It’s genetic, you know. My mother always said that she could eat an old boot if it was covered with chocolate.

“Allure of Chocolate” was held at the NJ Museum of Agriculture and included a presentation on the history of chocolate and its processing by Birnn Chocolates, a local chocolatier followed by a demonstration of chocolate recipes and creations. Afterwards was promised a chocolate “Shoppe” with Birnn chocolate products for sale and refreshments which turned out to be samples of the recipes demonstrated during the talk.

I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed. The part of the program covering the history of chocolate and how it is processed was fascinating. But too short. Also a little hard to follow. There was a video with subtitles telling what was going on and a lecturer who added his two cents as the video played. I’m too old to multitask like that. I either want to watch the video, read the subtitles or listen to the lecture. But not all three at once.

This was followed by a nice lady who went to great lengths to demonstrate her chocolate ideas and recipes. I think I would have enjoyed more lecture and less cooking. I was looking for information on the different types of chocolate, the ideal temperatures and methods to melt them, how they are used in various baked goods and confections and where to buy specialty chocolates.

I also would have loved more information on the history of chocolate, its discovery, its uses and the differences between the modern chocolatiers. My only real criticism of the lecturer was that when he was asked about the health benefits of chocolates, he laughed and said there were none. I beg to differ. I just received The Healing Powers of Chocolate from the Early Reviewers Group on LibraryThing purporting to discuss precisely that.

A and I skipped the “chocolate shoppe” after the lecture. We are contemplating a little field trip to the Birnn Chocolates factory in Highland Park. They offer tours of their facilities. Yum!! The refreshments were very disappointing. Too many “shortcuts”, i.e. use of mixes, readymade foods and cheap chocolate.

The Museum of Agriculture was fascinating. Lots of old tractors, wagons, carriages and farm implements. Labels were lacking on quite a few items. A and I puzzled over one structure, either a henhouse or a rabbit hutch, we couldn’t decide. In the lobby was an old organ and a tilapia swimming in a fish tank. All in all, a fun place to visit.


kate smudges said...

I would have been disappointed too from the sounds of it. I have the same problem as you ~ I am a chocoholic. Just today, I bought a chocolate truffle cake, ostensibly for my son. Luckily, he doesn't mind if he only gets a few pieces. Of course, chocolate has health benefits. If nothing else, it is the perfect medication for pms. Hope all's well with you. What is your book proposal on? I noticed you wrote that on Twitter today!

OldRoses said...

Surprisingly, I'm not writing about gardening. I write about my cats and their hilarious behavior. Cuz I like to laugh.