THE NEW TASTE OF CHOCOLATE: A Cultural and Natural History with Recipes
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.