Beautiful Beans..., watercolor on paper, 12" x 15" more...
In the US everyone asks me, "what's that big brown thing?" (in the upper left corner..) In France no one would need to ask. They know a cabosse (cacao bean, pronounced 'ka KOW') when they see one.
If you're really passionate about chocolate you should know where it comes from and how it's made. Not just whether you prefer dark or milk. Gérard Mulot's Paris window tells the story neatly, showing the fresh cocoa bean pods on the left, the dried pod on the right, chunks of couverture sitting amongst the dried seeds. Not to forget all the delicious end results...
At the Paris Salon de Chocolat you could buy a fresh pod from Michel Cluizel Chocolat. I bought one last year at the NY show. They told me, 'you better dry it PDQ or it will quickly rot'. After 24 hours in a slow oven I got the resulting "brown thing" in the above watercolor :)
Photos of bean preparation at the Paris Salon + a dried open bean... At the Mexican stand in Paris they let me taste a fresh seed. Sweetish but definitely not chocolatie!
E.Guittard at the NY Chocolate show had educational displays with lots of tasting of all percentages of chocolate. Guittard helps small farmers in Latin America update their techniques and improve the quality of their beans. The end result is better chocolate for their bars and for US pastry chefs' desserts. There are plenty of books to read out there on chocolate. Or visit Guittard's
website. Don't just eat and run. Get to know "beans about" chocolate!
Ok, so here's a trick question.. Now what is that "brown thing" sticking out of the glass vase in this fantastic floral display in Gérard Mulot's window? You will be graded. Don't all shout at once :)