with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Bears in the Kitchen – Chocolate Guide

Brent adores chocolate, especially in cookies, so it was a treat to find this “page” which is actually a full website’s worth of information on nothing but chocolate. The Bears in the Kitchen – Chocolate Guide covers much of the history of chocolate, especially the commercial development and expansion of chocolate products worldwide, and also includes chocolate terminology, recipes, techniques, and styles. It is just packed with chocolate covered goodness information.

The first Parisian chocolate maker of this kind appeared around 1670…Sulpice Debauve chose his motto: “Utile Dulci,” which he borrowed from Horatio (“omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci”: He has gained every point who has mixed the useful and the agreeable) in order to engrave it on the front of his chocolate shop, a shop he called “A la Renommée des Chocolats de France” (literal translation “Fame (fine reputation) of French Chocolates”).

This (compulsive eater) chocolate shopkeeper kept some sensibilities from his former career as a chemist and decided to adorn his new shop with the half moon shaped wood counter, known to decorate the beautiful apothecaries of those days. Percier and Fontaine, Napoleon’s architects who designed la Malmaison (for Josephine), created beyond the façade a warm décor, made of antique marble columns adding beautifully to the half moon counter.

Sulpice Debauve had most probably read the findings of Dr. Stephanius Blancardius from Amsterdam who, in 1705 maintained, “Chocolate is not only pleasurable to the taste, but truly is a balm for the mouth, keeping glands and mucous membranes healthy. That is why those who drink it have such sweet breath.” A doctor who recommends chocolate consumption as a therapy must have very much pleased the chemist/chocolate maker, especially when he said, “Eat, eat chocolate as it loosens the cough that shakes like a fury your entire body. It softens the ills better yet than any other syrup. Come and have some if your digestion is difficult. You will recover your strength in no time, and your winter will turn into a green spring.”

The page is a old fashioned, awkward design and the writing style filled with interjections and over explanations, but overlook these weaknesses to find tons of information about chocolate, more than you could imagine.

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