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October 31, 2004 - Notes on chocolate...

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As discussed in October 31, 2004 - How we are seen by the French, who we so love to hate..., the French may have their qualms about the United States, and bashing the French has become more intense than ever over here than ever before.  Can we find common ground?


Yes, France was our ally in the first gulf war, and their Foreign Legion performed heroically then, but this refusal to join us in the big one – the invasion, overthrow, occupation and reinvention of the whole country of Iraq this time - ticked off the half of America who thinks we have the right to do that anywhere and anytime to any nation that looks at us funny, because we’re the big dog here, and, well, we can do that.  No need to get into the Freedom Fries business again, or discuss how one of the worst of all insults the Republican commentators use against John Kerry is that he “looks French” and is really "the candidate of Paris.”  Rush Limbaugh often calls Kerry "Jean Cheri” and jokes that Kerry's middle initial “F” must stand for “French” (it stands for Forbes, his mother’s maiden name).  Much of all that was discussed in these pages here: April 25, 2004: Playing dumb - C'est affreux of course - but necessary.  Oh, how we hate the French.


But then again, every year there is the Salon du Chocolat in Paris.  This is a trade show co-sponsored by Ivory Coast, supplier of forty percent of the world's cocoa, which has been running each year for the last ten years.  The show is usually held at the Carrousel du Louvre, that shopping and convention center under the museum. This year they moved south to the city’s Expo park.  Far too many stands of various chocolatiers?   I guess.  It ran from the 28th – the night of the full moon – and closes Monday the 1st of November.  Monday, of course, is when all America kids are slowly recovering from their Haloween sugar and chocolate high.


The full program is here and you will note that at six in the evening on Halloween night, the 31st, you missed this: "Le chocolat messager de l'amour serait-il aphrodisiaque?" par Christiane Tixier - Pharmacien Chocologue Université du Chocolat IESA Paris et Présidente du Club du Chocolat de Toulouse et Jean-Paul Hévin Chocolatier-Pâtissier, Meilleur Ouvrier de France.  Oh well.  Earlier in the day one sees this listed: "Bière et Chocolat" par Hervé Marziou - Biérologue, Brasseries Heineken.  Yipes!

From l'Agence France-Presse (AFP) by way of The Tocqueville Connection you will find two items - TRADE SHOW DEDICATED TO ALL THINGS CHOCOLATE OPENS IN PARIS and FRENCH TASTE BIZARRE CHOCOLATE AT INDUSTRY BINGE – and here are some highlights.


some unusual exhibits, including an Australian artist painting in Belgian white chocolate, a Paris florist whose bouquets are edible and a four-metre (13-foot) high Eiffel Tower made of chocolate.


At the event's inauguration late Wednesday, models dressed in sweet creations took to the catwalk before a VIP audience.

… Tokyo's Madame Setsuko, Kyoto's Ponto, and the assorted "chocolatiers New Yorkais" are rubbing shoulders with European industry giants like Switzerland's Nestle and Lindt at the Salon du Chocolat, which expects to draw 170 makers and 100,000 chocolate lovers before the close of play.


… As chocolate lovers swarmed through Paris' 12,000 metre square Expo park, munching handout bars and pralines, it appeared they might not be quite ready, however, to swap their traditional cream and liquor fillings for chocolates filled with more exotic soya, lemon grass and green tea.


“Bizarre," said 29-year-old Nemaya, screwing up her nose, as she scrunched on one of the prestigeous Kyoto-based Ponto's Kinako crunchy pralines.  “There's a taste of soya which we are not used to here. It's not 'fondant'", she complained.


"Not good. I'm not keen on it. Too spicy," concurred 54-year old Martine - her face told the rest of the story - as she chewed on one of Tokyo-based Madame Setsuko's rice chocolates.


… Frederik Luzyk of New York's Mariebelle, which is seeking to get its Venezuelan Aztec Hot Chocolate drink on the shelves of Europe's department stores, also put the emphasis on quality, hoping people would buy it for gifts, rather than regular consumption.


"It's all about aesthetism and quality. This is an art food. Gorgeous. We are using only the finest products," he said.


French artisanal chocolate makers - who take pride in using only cocoa butter rather than the cheaper vegetable oils used by many competitors - brushed off the new competition, in a country where 17 million people eat chocolate every day.


"We are not worried, given that we use pure cocoa butter," said patissier Michel Boulestier, of France's grouping of artisanal patissiers.


"We are therefore adapted to French market," he said, during the trade show held to the thud of song and dance from the world's biggest cocoa producer, Ivory Coast.


We are also told this is the beginning of a season of chocolate trade shows.  Next is New York November 11-13 and then Tokyo January 28 to February 3 - and China is considering staging its own chocolate show in January 2006 in Beijing.  But the Paris trade show is the original, and perhaps the best.


The French do some things right, after all.








Note: Ric Erickson in MetropoleParis late Monday will perhaps have something to say about this trade show, and should the editor’s second ex-wife, who was mad about chocolate, ever stumble across this page, she should print it as a useful reference.



Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
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