Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chocolate Musings

Many people like chocolate. It is sold in many shapes and in many places. It can be dark brown, medium brown, or white. It seems to be used mostly for desserts and snacks. Sales of chocolate products have increased greatly in the last hundred years.

I regret to report that chocolate seems to have been ignored in the President’s stimulus plans for the United States. It also is un-American in that it grows in an unprocessed state on plants in other countries. There are no Hershey Bar trees even in Pennsylvania. American companies like Hershey, Mars and Ghirardelli are likely to get their cocoa beans from somewhere else. Some chocolate farms provide a living for their farmers; some don’t. So chocolate has politics.

Today it became obvious to me that my sweet tooth is not as strong as that of many people. Maybe that’s why I am still alive. I love chocolate, but not extremely sweet chocolate. My interest in broadening my taste for chocolate took me to the library, where I checked out a not-very-new book called Taste of Home’s Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook, dated 2003. After reading it and enjoying the photographs, I concluded that this book is aimed at big time sugar consumers. For example, I couldn’t imagine eating Nutty Chocolate Marshmallow Puffs,Four-Chip Fudge, S’mores Crumb Bars, or Really Rocky Road Brownies. I was surprised to learn that there are many ways to make brownies. Brownies can contain coconut, peanut butter, apricots, cherries, caramel and polka dots.

My favorite chocolate recipes are not very elaborate. They do not mainline sugar into my veins, although they are somewhat sweetened. I like dark chocolate bars with 70 percent cacao. Give me my old fashioned brownies from the 1940s, without the frosting, or a good chocolate chiffon pie from my 1953 Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. I will yield to a newer cookbook for a delicious, sweet and easy-to-make French Silk Pie. It is in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook of 1989. Chocolate contains multitudes.

Here is the sentiment of Taste of Home’s book, which looks like a really good book to read if not actually use. At the beginning, it says, “Well, are you hungry yet? Do you feel a chocolate craving coming on? Then go ahead and get going.” If chocolate is that addictive, Mr. Obama should have addressed it in his stimulus program. It obviously is a stimulant. An alternative is to just go to the store and buy some.

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