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Raise your spirits!

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Chocolate, or more precisely cocoa, raises your spirits. The Dominicans already knew this in the middle ages, which is why they declared it a sin to eat sweets and burned cocoa plants as the devil’s food.

Chocolate is currently going through a “devilish” revival, especially the particularly “sinful” sort with a high cocoa content. The best bittersweet temptations come from England, France, Austria and Belgium. The Norman, Michel Cluiz4el, introduced chocolate to the market with a characteristically high cocoa content. Over five hundred different cocoa aromas can develop during the roasting process. Cluizel “sniffs” his way discerningly through roasting houses and buys only the finest varieties of cocoa from Venezuela, Madagascar and Ecuador to create the bittersweet bouquet of his chocolates. Following similar path, Valrhona in the Rhone valley lays claim to the exclusive label “Grand cru de chocolate noir”: This type of chocolate contains cocoa from just one particular region, such as the Caribbean or Venezuela.

I have nibbed my way through nearly the entire world of cocoa flavours. Many chocolates were utterly unpalatable, many were acquired tastes and only a select few could be considered revelations! I personally think the primary requirement for chocolate is that enjoyable, and the fun stops for me when the cocoa percentage nears 57%. I can identify a good chocolate straight away: I put a small piece on my tongue and wait for euphoria to take hold of my body. A good example will leave me tingling for over an hour. When I read on the label, “an acquired bitter chocolate taste”, I’m ready turned off. I want chocolate I can savour! A delight that enraptures. There aren’t many that can do that! To me, pure cocoa is simply boring richness lacking finesse.

The world of chocolate is expanding its borders. Earlier, Zurich and Brussels were the only countries which made chocolate.

Today countries throughout Europe are trying their hand at it. And thank goodness. For me Zurich continues to be the centre of the chocolate universe. Creations from some of newcomers also make my mouth water. One of them is the Frenchman Joël Durand, whose chocolates perfumed with fruits and flowers are enough to drive a French chef mad with desire.

I love to finish a good day with chocolate. The only question is, which kind: semi-sweet, pure bitter or ratter a lavish, full-bodied milk chocolate. Or, is something milk chocolate. Or, is something missing? In my state of euphoria, I think about Trude Herr and her hit song “ I don’t want chocolate, I wanna man” Why not have both!

Christiane Strub.

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