Please share some good news with me. These days, you have to actively seek it, but the more you seek it, the more likely I think you are to find it. I’ll start the good news thread. If you ignore today, the weather has been simply glorious in New Jersey lately, and when there’s an abundance of sunshine, I can’t help but experience a surge of joy. Oblivious to bad news, patches of crocuses are popping up here and there, ushering in spring. Season 2 of Bridgerton drops next week, and then there’s the most beautiful chocolate on earth, surrounding me, and more headed my way soon. This all seems promising.
If you are reading this, I’m sure you agree that fine craft chocolate tastes really good, even when the news seems really bad. However, that is just one reason why I love it so dearly. When I have the privilege to savor it with people near and far, everyone is curious and respectful about the preferences of their fellow tasters. No sand has ever been thrown among the players in my chocolate sandbox. It’s a happy space for everyone, no matter what they believe. For me, chocolate is a muse, a link, an edible storyteller, a path to explore with limitless possibilities. Craft chocolate is a breath of fresh air for me, and maybe for you, too.
I was listening to a fascinating podcast today called “Conversations In Cacao” hosted by my friend Lauren Heineck of WKND Chocolate. She is a passionate, meticulous, inquisitive, bean-to-bar craft chocolate maker in Barcelona, who transforms cacao into “velvety liquid dreams” en route to making bars, bonbons and confections. In this episode she interviewed another friend of mine, Dr. Romi Burks, Professor of Biology (and chocolate! Yes, Romi teaches several multidisciplinary classes entirely devoted to chocolate) at Southwestern University in Texas, as well as in London. Romi offered a challenge to see chocolate in a new light. “Come up with a topic or discipline that cannot be connected in some way to chocolate,” she said. I realized that it is not even a small stretch to connect chocolate to art, history, literature, language, theater, biology, politics, neuroscience, genetics, social justice, psychology and more. The world can be perceived through chocolate-colored lenses, even if it’s just for the few moments that you choose to savor it.
Romi also suggested a book about cacao, beautifully written and illustrated for children, that would delight and instruct adults as well. It’s entitled No Monkeys, No Chocolate by Melissa Stewart. When the world is upside down, I personally find children’s literature very comforting, so I’m getting my copy ready!
What could feel more reassuring than pairing this book with a bite of melt-in-your-mouth goodness from my collection? Goodness is the predominant flavor I experience when I hit the pause button on the world and reach for my chocolate-colored glasses.