Saturday, January 26, 2013

Chocolate Doppelgangers: Emily Stone Meets Emily Stone

This was a week of immersion in chocolate.  I learned that Dandelion, in its newly minted cafe, serves cacao-fruit smoothies.  I learned from Brad Kintzer that Tcho indeed does their own roasting, though they travel from the Bay Area to the countries of origin instead of bringing the dried fermented beans to their factory on the Embarcadero (any questions? call up and ask. and let me know what you find out.) And I had the pleasure of talking about family businesses while munching on a cookie-dough-textured chocolate-milk-sugar mixture straight from the refiner with Gary Guittard at his factory in Burlingame just after meeting the company's fifth-generation employee, Amy Guittard.

But the highlight of my sojourn in San Francisco was meeting "the other Emily Stone," a savvy kindred spirit who combines development work with developed-world marketing as a cacao bean broker for Maya Mountain Cacao in Belize.

Big thanks to Alex Whitmore from Taza Chocolate for moderating the first in-person Emily Stone on Emily Stone meeting.

Alex Whitmore, Taza: So, who are you guys? What does Emily Stone mean? What’s the history of the Stone clan?

Emily Stone, Maya Mountain Cacao: Well, what’s actually funny is that Stone was a name that was given to my family at Ellis Island.  When my ancestors from Poland immigrated to the United States, the name that they arrived to the country with was Stern, but the immigration officials couldn’t spell it, so they decided to just write Stone, and so the family became Stone.

Emily Stone, Chocolate in Context: That’s really frightening because my family name was previously something Russian, because we were Eastern European Jews who came around the turn of the century...

Emily Stone: Oh my god, right!

Emily Stone: But that name, at Ellis Island, was changed to Stern.

Emily: Go on…

Emily: And our family name was Stern.  I still have cousins named Stern.  There’s no one directly related to me—except maybe this woman right here—other than my father and my mother named Stone.  Because it was my grandfather who changed the name after the Second World War because he thought it would be more of a… well… sort of… neutral name.

Alex Whitmore: Fascinating.

Emily: And Emily means “industrious,” according to a baby-name book that I once had.

Alex: Alright.  Well, I think we’re off to a good start here.  So which of you became Emily Stone first?

Emily: 1978

Emily: 1985

Alex: What are the most fundamental characteristics that make Emily Stone ... Emily Stone?  Go deep here.

Emily: I think being Emily Stone involves a drive to discover new things that comes out of a curiosity and intelligence blended together and that has produced an urge to travel and an interest in reading and literature, and through some of those interests discovering chocolate has become part of the story.

Alex: What are some adjectives that describe the essence of Emily Stone?

Emily: Other than industrious? Curious, inquisitive, sui generis, possibly eccentric.

Emily: E form Emily, E for Eccentric.  I would agree with that.  We have so much in common.  It’s really amazing.  One of the reasons that I like the name Emily Stone and that I think it’s a pretty solid reflection of my personality. Emily is pretty much a girly name, it’s got that feminine ring to it: I remember I had a little stool when I was a young girl with pink cursive lettering on it that said Emily.  I always hated it because I was a big tomboy when I was younger.  Now, I think there is a real femininity to the name Emily and kind of a delicateness to it.  But at the same time, with a last name like Stone, there's that combination of a feminine mystique and tough-as-nails industriousness.

Emily: It’s definitely a powerhouse name.

Emily: Yeah, I get that comment a lot.  Like, wow, that’s a great name!  You know, there’s an actress named Emily Stone.

Emily: There’s a really prominent Ob-Gyn named Emily Stone.  There’s a math professor.  And there’s a woman who must have been pretty famous a long, long time ago because you find her obituary every time you google the name.

Alex: That’s a perfect segue into my next question…

Emily: What’s going to be in my obituary?

Alex: If you could not be Emily Stone, who would you be?

Emily: I would be Caroline, which is my second name.  And I was named for my “godmother,” who recently passed away, so I would honor that name, for sure.

Emily: Part of going along with my dislike of the name Emily when I was younger, because I was such a tomboy, I always wanted to be named Alexandra and called Alex.  I really liked girls' names that could also be guys' names.  Like Sam and Chris and Alex…

Emily: Which are also good at the Fancy Food Show, because then you can bring all kinds of people in with the same badges and just swap them out, if you want to bring a big staff and save money.

Emily: Very true—we should have done that.

Emily: But speaking of versions of the name, what do people call you when you’re in Spanish-speaking countries or other foreign places?

Emily: Emilia, I get a lot of that.

Emily: What about EH-mily? That was me in Guatemala.

Emily: Yeah.  I get a lot of Melanie, too.  There are a couple store keepers in Punta Gorda who call me Melanie.

Emily: Any other names that you’ve taken on in Belize?  How does the name manifest?

Emily: So in Belize they speak Mayan languages.  There’s Kekchi Mayan and Mopan Mayan.  And it’s funny because one of the leaders in the cacao industry in Belize has the last name Pek, a great guy, and that name actually means Stone in Kekchi.  And the translation of Stone in Mopan is Tunich, so some of the staff call me Tunich as a nickname.  What about in New York?

Emily: Oh, nothing as exciting.

Alex: So, we have to get to the question that I think we’re all wondering about.

Emily: Which is…

Alex: Who is the real Emily Stone? Who is more authentic?

Emily: I think there might be a showdown during Chocolate Week in Belize.  I think we’re going to be put through some trials of identity.

Alex: How long can you keep this up for?

Emily: I think this is the beginning of a beautiful thing.

Emily: Yeah, I think this is a really harmonious coexistence.

Emily: Absolutely.

Emily: What about cases of mistaken identity?

Alex: That happened a lot on Saturday.

Emily: Actually, I think when we first found out about each other was when I had a friend who wrote a comment on your blog…

Emily: And wanted to meet up…

Emily: In Merida.

Emily: Yes!

Alex: If you were crossing over the Golden Gate Bridge and something magical happened and the next morning you woke up and you were in each other’s bodies, what would you do?

Emily: Oh.  I would … I’m trying to picture your location … I think what I would do is get into a kayak.  Would that be possible?

Emily: That’s possible.

Emily: So I would definitely get into a kayak and I would have some early morning outside time.  And then I would survey a … possibly a warehouse?

Emily: Mm-hm.

Emily: This is kind of what I end up doing all the time anyway.  To simultaneously pretend that I knew what I was doing and honor the job with 100% legitimacy, I would talk to people and find out what was going on.  And I would figure out what I had to do next.

Alex: So you would gladly live that life?

Emily: Yeah, I would be there.

Emily: Come down any time!

Alex: What would you do, Emily?

Emily: Let’s see.  I would read the New York Times.  Do you get the New York Times?

Emily: Online.

Emily: Ok.  I’d read the Times.  And then I’d go through your chocolate samples and pick out some of the best.  And at some point I’d drink some red wine, too—we don’t get much of that in Belize.

Emily: And if there were something you wanted to try in the chocolate world, you could probably get someone to send it over for delivery the next afternoon, so what would you request?

Emily: Well, I had one of Alan McClure’s bars recently, one of the special versions he made for the Chocolate Garage, which is one of the best chocolate bars I’ve ever had in my life.  Incredible.  So I’d put in an urgent call for a case of that.

Emily: When it arrives, I’ll just pack it up and bring it down with me to Belize.

Emily: Perfect, we’ll go out in a kayak and eat it.

Alex: This has been tremendously revealing.  


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweet piece. Thanks for clearing things up. I think I am more confused than ever.

But, Emily, it seems you did not act on my Fancy Food Show CARE Package. Or did it get lost in transit?

2:41 PM GMT-5  

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