Chocolate Travels: An Introduction
I left Guatemala for New York this morning, on my way to Australia. Those of you who know me probably wonder what I'm doing and what this has to do with chocolate. Those of you who don't probably wonder who I am and what chocolate has to do with me. Well, I think we'll figure these things out as we go along.
Chocolate figured very little on the first leg of the trip today, from Guatemala City to Houston. The Scharffen Berger was already packed and my 5am drive to the airport didn't leave enough consciousness to think about making hot chocolate. In fact, chocolate figures very little in Guatemala in general. Land of great contradictions, Guatemala was probably the birthplace of chocolate and the cacao bean itself but there isn't a decent chocolate producer in the country. Instead of local chocolate, I packed a box of sugary dulces tipicos from Dona Maria Gordillo in Antigua as my Guatemalan contribution to Thanksgiving dinner at home.
By the time I reached Houston, a lifestyle centered on chocolate (or at least with a chocolate center) already seemed far more possible. Continental was offering three frequent flier miles for every dollar spent in the airport's new Terminal E, so I took on the charge of breaking in the fifty-dollar bill I'd picked up the night before when I sold my printer on the fly. I found a bookstore (with surprisingly better offerings than standard airport fiction purveyor), which reminded me of the second-hand bookshop in Guatemala that I owned until recently. I found a newsstand (with surprisingly better offerings than the bookstore), which reminded me of the magazines I worked for in New York until I moved to Guatemala two years ago. Then I turned the first corner in a long corridor and came upon an unassuming outpost of a chocolate franchise called Coco Moka. With a quasi-professional interest, I asked for a business card. The saleswoman told me that there were none but that I could find more information about the store printed on the shopping bag that I would receive if I bought something. Fair enough. I was tempted by a box of wholesome See's Candies lollypops and a straight-from-Duty-Free chocolate rum cake, but I settled on a single Xocolatl chocolate bar from Dagoba (which was recommended to me by a fellow chocolate fanatic in Portland, Oregon) and a fortuitous item that I bought as a Christmas present for my boyfriend (the identity of this item will not be revealed until after the holidays). Chocolate in hand, I circled back to the newsstand and picked up two travel magazines with articles about Southeast Asia (where I'll be in a few months) and a copy of this month's Food & Wine (which I chose over Bon Appetit on impulse).
I got on the plane, ate my spicy organic candy bar, and discovered that the cooking magazine had an article on chocolate innovators. I circled the air above La Guardia Airport for almost an hour and a half, successfully loaded almost 200 pounds of luggage into a cab, and headed for my father and step-mother's house. Here I found a box with a copy of the brand new Hot Chocolate book by Michael Turback which I had ordered before leaving Guatemala. I'm on my way to bed to start reading it now.