Chocolate Linguistics Part 7: European Edition
Employees of the US State Department are discouraged from associating too closely with locals (or "foreign nationals") while they are living and working overseas. This has always struck me as a particularly problematic blend of bureaucratic nonsense and exceptionalistic ideology that results in nothing other than the institutionalization of barriers to communication.
In the spirit of opening up communication across conceptual and geographical distances in the chocolate industry, I started the Chocolate Linguistics series in June of 2007. These debates over chocolate language politics, pooling professionals' opinions on cocoa and cacao, chocolatiers and chocolate makers, cocoa mass and cocoa solids, truffles and bon bons, couverture, and ganache are by a wide margin the most frequently visited posts on Chocolate in Context. The most recent installment was in 2010, so it seems time for an update.
On September 1 of 2012, I arrived in the European Union and (like all American citizens) I was permitted ninety days to remain in Schengen zone as a guest. During that time, I engaged in a bit of chocolate diplomacy by asking the chocolate makers, chocolatiers, and chocolate artists I met along the way to explain what defines the varieties of chocolate famously associated with various European countries. The common language here is English (it's the language in which I asked the questions and the language in which the participants responded) but interpretations diverge at fascinating angles.
In your own words...
Parisian-born Swedish grower of cacao in Madagascar and Brazil, and owner of the 21st-century Swiss chocolate company Åkesson's
Dutch cocoa: Cocoa powder. The process includes the treatment with alkanizing agents that gives a milder taste and destroys the antioxidants it contains.
Belgian chocolates and Swiss chocolates: Industrial chocolate... In the case of Switzerland, an industry based on the invention of milk chocolate by Peter and of conching by Rodolph Lindt. In the case of Belgium, it is based on the invention of the praline by Neuhaus and the development of a large supplier of couverture like Callebaut.
French truffles: A wonderful and simple delicacy: a ganache coated in cocoa powder... far better than Swiss or American truffles.
Kees RaatSpanish hot chocolate: Real drinking chocolate, thick and rich!
Maker of chocolate, candy, and good times at Amsterdam's Metropolitan and author of the Dutch cookbook Bon Bon
Dutch cocoa is cocoa powder.
Belgian chocolates are more sweet than Swiss chocolates, and they make so many different chocolate types, Belgium from very bad to good quality and Swiss mostly good quality.
French truffles I do not know.
Spanish hot chocolate is a drink chocolate sometimes with pepper. And sometimes it is thicker with maíz.
Spanish textile artist and creator of Edible Surfaces, sponsored by London's Rococo and hosted by Amsterdam's Chocolátl
Dutch cocoa: To me Dutch chocolate is the “Gorilla bar” by Chocolate Makers (even if the cocoa is from Congo). Chocolate Makers are making amazing high quality chocolate in the Netherlands. The 68% is a favourite of mine.
Belgian chocolates and Swiss chocolates: Possibly the chocolate that everybody knows about in central Europe. Certainly what I used to think that chocolate was before I started collaborating with Chocolátl and began to learn about origin chocolate and all its nuances.
French truffles: Refined and very interesting in texture but too sweet for my taste.
Spanish hot chocolate: The best remedy for a hangover. If it is well made is thick and dense with a pinch of salt.