The New Taste of Chocolate: A Cultural and Natural History of Cacao with Recipes

Front Cover
Ten Speed Press, 2009 - Cooking - 246 pages
More than two hundred years ago, the great Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus christened the cacao tree Theobroma cacao, “food-of-the-gods cacao.” Truly, chocolate is the closest thing we mortals have to ambrosia. But not all chocolate is created equal, a fact we instinctively know when we bite into an exceptional piece of chocolate. What qualities set artisanal chocolate apart from mass-marketed brands? How does chocolate impact our health? How will the rising popularity of microbatch chocolate affect the industry? To find out, The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised takes us on a journey beginning with Maya and Aztec chocolate rituals, followed by exploring the significance of cacao through the ages, up through groundbreaking contemporary genetic discoveries.
 
Going far beyond the scope of anything currently written about chocolate, this definitive illustrated reference has been revised and expanded to immerse chocolate lovers in the rich history and science of the cacao bean. Celebrated author, scholar, and chocolate expert Maricel E. Presilla introduces us to the broad array of cacao cultivars, meticulously covering the latest research, then explores the art of cacao farming and the people who dedicate their lives to cultivating the precious cacao pods. She also elucidates the harvesting, fermenting, and drying practices that create subtle distinctions in the tastes of particular strains of cacao. From the burnished reds and shocking yellows of the cacao fruits to the deep mahoganies and milky tans of the finished product, we follow cacao from bean to bar, each incarnation as luscious as the next.
 
More than just a cultural and natural history of our most coveted indulgence, The New Taste of Chocolate, Revised includes a new collection of Maricel Presilla’s savory recipes plus sweet contributions from internationally renowned pastry chefs and chocolatiers. Presilla dissects buzzwords such as single origin and estate grown, illuminates chocolate trends gaining traction with manufacturers and connoisseurs, and predicts what the future holds for chocolate as a globally celebrated delicacy. With stunning new full color photography and rare archival prints throughout, this comprehensive and gorgeous book will help chocoholics cultivate an appreciation for the infinite subtleties of their favorite culinary delight.
 

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About the author (2009)

MARICEL E. PRESILLA is a culinary historian, author, and chef specializing in the cuisines of Latin America and Spain. She studied medieval Spanish history at Spain’s University of Valladolid and at New York University, where she received her PhD. Formally trained in cultural anthropology, she has done extensive research on the food crops of the Americas and taught at New York University and Rutgers University.
 
Presilla is a frequent contributor to Saveur, Food & Wine, and Gourmet, and also writes the Miami Herald’s “Cocina” column. A recognized authority on all aspects of chocolate as well as on Spanish and Latin American culinary history, she has given numerous seminars, tastings, and lectures to culinary groups nationwide and has been featured in the country’s top food publications. She is a member of the advisory committee for the Culinary Institute of America’s Latin American program and was recently named one of the “Ten innovators who will influence food in the U.S. for the next 30 years” by Food & Wine.
 
Presilla is the president of Gran Cacao, a food marketing company specializing in chocolate research and the heirloom cacao bean trade. She has been a consultant for several food companies including the Venezuela-based Chocolates El Rey C.A., whose premium chocolates she helped introduce to the United States. She is the co-owner and chef of two restaurants in Hoboken, New Jersey: the small pan-Latin Zafra and the more formal South American Cucharamama. The restaurants have earned Presilla repeated nominations for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Mid-Atlantic award. In September 2009, she was awarded the prestigious Silver Spoon Award by Food Arts magazine for her multifaceted contributions to the culinary arts.
 
Presilla is the author of three illustrated books on various aspects of Latin American culture and a forthcoming book on Latin American cooking. Her newest venture is the food store and cooking atelier Ultramarinos in Hoboken. She divides her time between her New Jersey restaurants, Miami, and Latin America.

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