“He showed the words ‘chocolate cake’ to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. ‘Guilt’ was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: ‘celebration’.”
― Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto
I know that most of us carry around emotional baggage tied to food and that there are plenty of French women (and men) who see food as the enemy, but I do find this cultural difference between the above word associations thought-provoking.
It does my body good to luxuriate in an exquisite piece of chocolate or share an artisanal pastry in a special moment, in the right atmosphere, rather than guiltily guzzling down a dozen of quelque chose in front of my computer.
After 2 ½ years in France, I’m getting better and better at thinking of chocolate (and other foods) as a celebration and choosing smaller portions and higher quality foods over huge and highly processed junk.
….a massive 7-lb American chocolate cake from COSTCO…
Look at all those unnatural ingredients!
I could feed a small village with this massive cake!
Old habits die hard, but I find that this particular bad habit is easier to break en France.
…a much smaller, and far more expensive and delicious gâteau au chocolat (55€-$75), one could only afford for a true celebration…
en France: in France
quelque chose: something, anything
These Christmas windows aren’t just for licking, they are for eating.
Leave it to the French to produce amazing sugar-free chocolate. Guy Roux is affectionately known as the le roi du chocolat sans sucre. Using a selection of beans from South America, he and his artisanal staff produce pure cocoa butter chocolate without sugar. It’s 100-percent natural (no artificial sweeteners), has 40-percent fewer calories, and it is surprisingly delicious!
After hours of tastings, it was pure delight to come across this exciting young chocolatier. I was dubious chocolate sans sucre would tempt my taste buds, but indeed it did. His mendiants were deliciously on par with others at le salon du chocolat, but what really “took the cake” was his chocolate spreads. Handing out his products and gamely chatting with the crowd, he and his creamy and subtly sweet cocoa concoctions completely won me over.
le mendiants: traditional French confection composed of a chocolate disk studded with nuts and dried fruits representing the four mendicant or monastic orders of the Dominicans, Augustinians, Franciscans and Carmelites. Each of the nuts and dried fruits used refer to the color of monastic robes with tradition dictating raisin for the Dominicans, hazelnuts for the Augustans, dried figs for Franciscans and almonds for Carmelite. Usually found during Christmas, recipes for this confection have veered away from the traditional combination of nuts and fruits to other combinations incorporating seeds and fruit peels. Wikipedia.
le roi du chocolat sans sucre: the king of chocolate without sugar
“Chocolate doesn’t make the world go ’round, but it sure does make the trip worthwhile!”
The theme of this year’s Salon du Chocolat was enchantment, the question asked, “Why is chocolate so magical?” The event itself was certainly enchanting, delicious, and completely over the top. If you are passionate about chocolate, and I am, this is the not-to-be-missed event of the season.
The annual salon brings together an amazing collection of chocolatiers, pastry chefs, cocoa experts and confectioners. This year, over 180 French and international chocolate makers filled the grand exhibition space (20,000 sqm) at Port de Versailles representing (and providing tastings of!) some of the biggest names and the highest quality chocolate products from around the world. Another 350+ participants provided samplings of bonbons, cakes, ice cream, crepes and sugarcoated delights.
I met my girlfriend Em first thing in the morning and spent nearly 8 hours nageant dans le chocolat. It was fabulous. Imagine a whole day bathed in a space completely dedicated to chocolate and sweet treats. The first floor, the Tendance Confiserie was dedicated entirely to fantastical sugary confections, new trends in confection and included a space devoted to les enfants offering little ones the chance to make and decorate les bonbons. For me the space was more eye-candy than mouth-candy. It was a photographer’s dream a fairy-tale land of colorful sweeties and fun.
The second floor on the other hand was for the serious chocolate connoisseur. This is where the big guns come to play and show off their newest creations. Just like the fashion industry the superstars have the chance to roll out their new fall line and share their established winners. And there were a lot of winners…and things got a little carried away! Never has the saying “so much chocolate, so little time” been more accurate.
Moderation, schmoderation…by the end of the day, we were completely chocolated-out, but completely and contentedly under the spell of the magic of chocolate.
“Oh, divine chocolate!
They grind thee kneeling,
Beat thee with hands praying,
And drink thee with eyes to heaven.”
― Marco Antonio Orellana
les enfants: the children
nageant dans le chocolat: swimming in the chocolate
As we are running off for homemade Thai food tonight, I am leaving you with a few scrumptious pictures of how I spent the day….completely overwhelmed by chocolate! Stay tuned for the story tomorrow. Bonne dégustation!
Bonne dégustation! Happy (good) tasting!