Saturday, May 4, 2019

Cook Up Cinco de Mayo Chocolatey Foods

If you are looking for ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo with chocolate, I have found a book that might help you. Maricel E. Presilla's The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes.

I was given this book several years ago as a gift, I think it was for my birthday. I have the 2009 edition so that is what I am referring to in this book review. I get so many books from publishers, from authors, and through the Amazon Vine program that gifts often fall to the back particularly if they are not light and fun. This book is packed with history and culture, it is a lot of soak in and even now, I'm not convince that I have absorbed all the information in this book.

The book has six chapters.

"Growing Up with Cacao" is the shortest of these but gives Presilla a personality and background so I felt she would know what she is writing about.

"A Natural and Cultural History of Chocolate" is the second largest chapter and frankly I think it should be required reading for anyone who loves chocolate. It fully settles human relationships to chocolate within well explained contexts without hyperbole or judgement. The images are numerous and illustrate the points well. Points that Presilla wants to bring out well are highlighted on lightly brown colored background that draw the eye but do not make it difficult to read the text.

"Identifying Cacao" is over 30 pages long and was mind boggling. I've read studies and histories on chocolate before but this really laid out how complex the plant really is and why truly single-source chocolate is so amazing in terms of flavors. It also proves that if you care about chocolate, you need to care about the farming of it because it all impacts the products you love (or hate).

"From Cacao to Chocolate" tells the technical, economic, and social aspects of how the chocolates we love have been and are made. Presilla introduces us to peoples, individuals, and brands as well.

"Tasting Chocolate" is basic how-to appreciate chocolate by being mindful when you consume it. We talk about the procedure we use in almost every feature article we publish and we've interviewed chocolate tasters and judges who have discussed these techniques as well.

Then we get to the recipes, the largest chapter in the book. Every type of dish you could possible make with chocolate or cacao is covered in this book -- main dishes, desserts, appetizers, drinks, and even stable ingredients you might want to keep on hand. Each chapter gives a background to the recipe and insight into how Presilla either learned or recreated it. This is not only the European style of chocolate but it really focused on Mesoamerican traditional foods. This is why the book could be great for you to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I want to try out some of the savory main dishes but my family is not very supportive of this idea... I may just do it anyway and not tell them. You will need access to a really inclusive grocery store or a speciality store to find some of the ingredients.

Have read or used this book? Let me know in a comment what you thought.

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