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Friday, September 23, 2011

θεοβρῶμα



Know what that means? Here’s a hint: it means chocolate. (So much for hints.) More specifically, when translated from the Greek, it means theobroma, or food of the gods. In 1753, when Linnaeus was classifying everything in the world, he added cacao, a word derived more phonetically from the Nahuatl term cacahuatl handed down via the Spaniards who first brought it back to Linnaeus's neck of the woods.

But why is chocolate so revered? 

Apart from sheer deliciousness, one of its active ingredients is the alkaline compound theobromine, which keeps humans awake and horny, but kills dogs and cats. This is why you give your sweetheart Valentine’s Day candy, but avoid giving it to your pet. If you plan on seducing your human partner, by all means ply them with a lovely bit of single-origin dark criollo chocolate with a fine snap and silky mouthfeel. If you plan on seducing your pet, you need psychological intervention, and no amount of chocolate can help you.

Not all chocolate is food fit for gods, however. Some of it is the food of hucksters and hoodlums who make a low-quality product they lobbied hard to name “chocolate” even while replacing the cocoa butter with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils. Naughty, naughty. The gods smite you for trickery like that. The FDA, siding with the gods, shot the Hershey Company down on this one, but some evil has unfortunately slipped through.

The Hershey’s Chocolate and Cocoa Cookbook manages, somehow, to make everything in it look mournful and full of dread — as if each cake, mousse and pastry were patiently awaiting their turn to be sacrificed on an alter of 1970's era wallpaper complete with a perfunctory sprig of plastic flowers. This is chocolate, people! 

Behold this cake above that looks like it was designed to be served at a wake — its own. Just be sure not to feed it under the table to Fido.

Hershey’s Chocolate and Cocoa Cookbook, Ideals Publishing Corp., 1982

Also from this book: Double Dipping

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