Chocolate Revivals… shakin’ your bon-bons, waggin’ your tongues, & raising your bar like a tambourine
That time of year again… more festivals dropping in our laps than autumn leaves falling to the ground… from weaving & beer to a lighthouse festival – all the possibilities. And, of course, chocolate. October arrives in sync with the gateway to the holiday season rush. A’dam, Cologne, Copenhagen, Costa Rica, Dallas, London, Panama, Paris, Seattle, Tokyo… the list grows. (Funny how each one crowns a different ‘best bar’ btw. There’s no consensus in chocolate. Except for the C-spot’s Chocolate Census!).
We’ve noticed these chocolate fests are beginning to take on the air & tone of religious revivals. This tribe who believe their chocolate strengthens like divine faith healing so the deaf hear, the blind see, the paralytic walk, the palsied calm, the ageusiac taste, & the haters love, & whose almighty power of cacáo, as if cribbed from the Epistle to the Hebrews 13:18, “is the same yesterday, today, & forever”.
‘Brothers and sisters, anyone here who wants to be cured today?’ Long lines form. ‘Do you believe, brothers & sisters?’ ‘Yes, yes!’ & the audience goes wild with cravings. ‘Lose those crutches – physical, financial, emotional & otherwise, & throw them away’. All run with open arms, mouths agape, & minds expanded to grok sacramental chocolate, then leave the service exhilarated, renewed. This democratic bliss, accessible to everyone thru devotion, induces Cacáo Hallelujah: glory, glory choc-a-lula.
Ironically, the traveling caravan of cocoa gurus & high priestesses of the spirit bring themselves to the verge of collapse from exhaustion after these long sessions . They retire for much needed rest only to suffer insomnia, a problem they contend with due to cacáo’s theobromine content turning them into nocturnal creatures, while they violate one of the Dealer’s 10 Commandments and pervert it into “you can never get too high on your own supply.” In truth, there’s no known cure for OCD – Obsessive Chocolate Disorder.
In baptizing ravenous consumers at these conferences & galas, however, they wonder just how much scrupulous attention to pay to sanitation when shaking all their fans’ hands, concerned about acquiring an exotic disease in this New Age of Ebola (‘yo, bro, pssst, did you catch the latest bar from Liberia… smuggled in on a CDC flight… it just kills it!?!?!?!? Yeah, as the yummifiers say, “chocolate to die for” OMYYYYYYYG’. A chocolate version of the Pentacostal speaking-in-wagging-tongues).
Survival erases any doubt if all the risk, expense & effort were worth it, thankful for the fellowship of peers, among them the burgeoning class of barsmiths & sundry cocoa-sugar pushers-cum-prophets of rapture (‘dude, you did that on a CocoaTown 65L? Damn, who knew.’ ‘Nah, I actually hooked up the blades on my Honda Lawn Mower to conche it.’ ‘Ahh, so that explains the notes of fresh-grass in this bar.’ ‘My next experiment involves the propellers off an abandoned crop duster. Just imagine what that’ll taste like.’ ‘Flippin’ A’).
And so it goes… on & on & on to the next one… as was done 5,000 years ago, still we continue.
See y’all at a gathering soon. Praise the Lord & thanks be to chocolate.
Our Communications Director attended a recent chocolate festival & filed this report:
I headed over to the booth of one of the barsmiths whose work I’m particularly fond of, congratulated them on winning an award, and handed them my card.
He took a look and started laughing. He stopped, apologized, told me that festivals being what they are he was a bit short on sleep. Then he burst out laughing again.
It was genuine laughter, the infectious kind, so I was smiling too, though I didn’t know why. He called his wife over, showed her the card, and – still laughing – said to her:
“Look! Look! This is Mark’s Communications Director! She can communicate with Mark! She understands what he is saying!”
Our next project: take a page from Jay-Z and release a C-spot version of Decoded.
A Chocolate Night Out
Speaking of which, one of the better single nights in chocodom takes place at Caputo’s in Utah on November 13. This year the 3rd Annual Chocolate Fest there features California’s Dick Taylor chocolate maker + local chefs & mixologists sharing their chocolate creations. Proceeds benefit the Heirloom Cacao Preservation initiative (FULL DISCLOSURE: the publisher of the C-spot is the Director of the Heirloom Cacao Fund.)
the C-spot is now in German. That’s right. Translated if not decoded. Quite logical considering the German-speaking world — factoring in Germany, Austria & parts of Switzerland – ranks at the top of chocolate consumption per capita & appreciates the premium variety in particular. Check out chclt (that’s chocolate FYI without the vowels because Peter Berger, the force behind it, understands that chŏk’lət is mostly percussive consonants). A salute to Peter: the reviews are even tastier in German.
Cocoa & Ebola
The headlines are scaring up just in time for making Halloween fantasy a live grim reality.
Wonder what brilliant official(s) decided to introduce, voluntarily, the virus into the New World under the rationale that the CDC already has it in its lab for research purposes.
Was it the self-same said gov’t official quoted earlier this month that an outbreak “is unlikely but probable”? Typical robo-equivocation from a bureaucrat / politician to quell public panic while engaging in personal CYA.
In any event, we took the bullet for chocolatarians everywhere by volunteering in the face of these risks to sample a bar containing cocoa from the epicenter of the epidemic: Liberia. Check here to see if we survived this act of mercy.
Glibness aside, a deadly serious situation has enveloped West Africa – the source for upwards of two-third of the world’s cocoa production. Liberia, a nation-state founded by freed American slaves, along with Sierra Leone & Guinea, bear the brunt of it. To paraphrase the great emancipator, Lincoln, fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge may speedily pass away. Failure to contain it could have dire consequences for humanity nevermind chocolate.
This is no time for schadenfreude like the myopic comments online about ‘fine chocolate is not made from bulk African cocoa’. While generally true, some of it actually is.
Let’s hope ebola does not impact Ivory Coast & Ghana – the bulkheads of the industry. Many farmhands who harvest cocoa in Ivory Coast are migrants from Liberia & Guinea. The gov’t of Ivory Coast sealed the border (odd, in light of the debate in North America over suspending flights from West Africa; apparently Ivorians profile & discriminate, too) & those migrant workers now cannot cross (at least not legally) to pick cacáo pods. Should ebola affect Ivory Coast &/or Ghana, cocoa growers there would flee to avoid exposure to the virus. Their cacáo fruits — whose seeds are a key ingredient in every chocolate — would be left unpicked to rot.
Our thoughts and prayers are with all the professionals in the trade who travel & work in the region &, above all, the Africans who live there. May everyone be spared of the wrath of this wretched disease.
Reviews of the Month
French Broad Costa Rica: 80%… the new 70
Original Bean’s Papua Kerafat — a trophy bar; hang it next to the deer antlers & elephant tusks
The center of chocolate gravity shifting to… Hawai’i?
Man blindfolded on all-4s in a public park — S&M, terror victim, or sniffing for chocolate?
Mast Bros drop a taste of New England autumn — maple syrup — on London
Finally, a bar that tries to reach the moon by climbing a Theobroma cacao tree
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