Saturday, May 08, 2010

The Perfect Finish and Other Chocolate Summer Reading

The last time I thought seriously about any kind of chocolate other than Trader Joe's chocolate-covered almonds (an emergency substitute for Michael Recchiuti's dragée), I was in Mexico City, looking at Remedios Varo paintings at one of the museums in the middle of Chapultepec Park. And a few months from now, I may well be contemplating chocolate recipes and global trade patterns in another distant country. But, the enchantments of surrealist art aside, predicting the future is a dangerous activity. Better to concentrate on the present.

Today, I hold a master of fine arts in creative writing--I got my graduate degree from the University of Pittsburgh on May 2nd. And on Monday, I begin teaching a five-session course titled "The Literature and History of Chocolate" at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Pitt. In my lectures (as I have done in my recently-completed thesis project, titled "Happenings: Essays on Love, Chocolate, and Language"), I will defer to the authority of Sophie Coe, whose The True History of Chocolate seems impossible to improve upon. But I'll also bring in samples from playful stories like James Runcie's The Discovery of Chocolate and from chocolate purveyors whose goods may or may not be found in Trader Joe's.

Over the coming weeks, I'll chronicle our discoveries as a class here on Chocolate in Context. The summer also promises to carry me to New York for the Fancy Food Show at the end of June, and across the Pennsylvania border in the other direction in search of Midwestern chocolate. In August, I'll even team up with novelist and Tin House editor Michelle Wildgen and chocolatier Gail Ambrosius for an event that will turn out to be either a literature-infused chocolate tasting or a chocolate-infused literary reading in Madison, Wisconsin.

And then what? Again, better not to get ahead of oneself. I'd rather spend my time catching up on my chocolate reading. A few new books have come across my desk recently: David Lebovitz's Ready for Dessert, Chronicle Books' Chocolate Cakes, and a book by Obama's pastry chef Bill Yosses and New York food writer Melissa Clark that seems particularly timely--The Perfect Finish.


Post a Comment

<< Home