Friday, November 17, 2006

Beautiful Chocolate Beans

Beautiful Beans..., watercolor on paper, 12" x 15"
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.


  1. A COCOA BEAN! But before today I would've said guava or something...Thanks!

  2. My eyes are keen
    You may have seen
    In that vase, which is not lean
    I see, only a bean


  3. Anonymous11:01 AM

    Why is it that I always get a craving for chocolate after reading your blog,lol.
    I have bought some Anton Bergh for tonight for dessert after a special meal just for me and my love. Both girls will be away :-).....and who knows what will come after the chocolate!

  4. Anonymous11:30 AM

    Who'd of thunk it???
    Chocolate comes from such as this?
    The source of all bliss.
    You've raised my esteem.
    Hale the almighty BEAN!

    Unknown poet

  5. Carol,
    Bravo;il faut essayer,il faut chercher...
    You´re superbe because you don´t stop only in the nice,beauty images that you find around you and paint them...You also look for the origins,for the roots of them(and you paint-as we say in Spanish-like Angels do :D)
    Tu sais...Je t'envie un peu.

  6. Anonymous3:56 PM

    Oh beans of beauty,
    Where do ya reside?
    In yonder vase or lands far and wide?
    Your seeds bare gifts beyond BOUNTY BARS,
    French chocolatiers make tablettes tasting better than MARS.
    Outer spacial and celestial,
    Your best beans are ancestral.

    no name poet

  7. Anonymous4:07 PM

    Merci for the multi-chocolate lessons. Now that I know what that brown thing is, I shall impress my friends at my next soiree and strewn them about my dinner table etc :)

  8. avocardo... oopss i mean a cocoa bean.
    nice poem anon...

  9. What an amazing arrangement - I love all the beans and pods and sheer, delectable *variety* that emerges from toasting that little bean... (Not to mention the watercolors they inspire. :-)

    Such a lovely blog.... *sigh*

  10. Anonymous4:10 AM

    Cacao pod, so rough and ugly,
    Can chocolate truly be yr spawn
    When you're so fugly?
    I'd rather view a mac or truffle
    This gooey mess
    Is too much caffuffle!

    Paris Poet Laureate

  11. After all the processed, I was pleased to see the beautiful bean and pod itself. I love how they hang on the trees too.

    I use coco shells - a by-product of the chocolate industry - as a thick mulch in the garden, which leaves an incredible smell of chocolate around in the air until the shells soak down.

  12. Omega Thanks for that added bit of choco bean info! I saw the seeds also made up into a necklace and was sorely tempted at the Mexican stand in Paris...

    Simon Please do some beanery home work!!

    Guru-Tech and Anonymouse Poets Grande Merci for blathering on about the bean is such effusive terms :)

    Smila and TLC and Shabby And everyone else gets a Chocolate kiss for effort on the test!

  13. such inspired poetry! I would love to contribute a verse, but at the risk of being the bete noire of paris breakfasts I have to say, chocolate doesn't do it for me! I know, it's like admitting to being frigid or something. But I still enjoy your watercolors OF chocolate :)

  14. Anonymous8:56 AM

    So much for ALL this chocolate idolatry.
    S'il vous plait more macaronerie.
    Some of us betes noirs could care less for the Bean.
    In fact, we hold it in very low esteem.

    Non-chocolate-loving poet

  15. Ahh, chocolate. It is wonderful. Such similarities to coffee as well. In Vancouver we have a Bernard Callebault chocolate shop; very very nice.

  16. Carol:- yes maam! :o)

    Maitresse:- is is ALL about the art in my view... :o)

  17. Dear Carol,
    It's not an effort,it's a pleasure to find your new posts everyday(even 6 hours later...)and I think our nice words are"interested"...only to find your glamourous paintings that inspire our days ;)(I would call it a"quid pro quo").
    Pd-Please,you have to go to the Spanish painting Expo(From El Greco to Picasso)in the Guggenhaim..even only to give me your critic...I'll be waiting for it.

  18. Ps to Maitresse-As you do,I'm not mad about chocolate(seulement j'aime le chocolat amer,bien sûr!!) but that doesn't mean you're frigid(even more calling you"maitresse"..jjj ;D) can be mad about cheese or shoes...jjjj;D(excusez-moi,je blague!!)

  19. Anonymous5:09 PM

    Aztecual though you be,
    Oh Bean of 'Ka Kow'
    Not ALL respond to you with a WOW :(
    I'd prefer anyday
    And vanillo.

    Montezuma's Revenge..

  20. Hail the bean that is the glory of chocolate!

    Your painting is wonderful!

  21. Thank you for the education. Whoda thunk that "brown thing" had anything to do with wonderful chocolate?

  22. Anonymous6:30 PM

    Yes an american people have to go to France to realize that when the best Cacao of the world comes from Venezuela... ask French, Swiss and Belgium people.

    Best chocolats? Go to Venezuela.

    Yoy can go there, manifestate against Chavez and then have a nice chocolat and the best cofee !

  23. Who would think that from such a little bean, so much joy?

    All your wonderful chocolate photos inspired me to take some photos of my local fudge shop!

  24. smila, I'm just getting over having my heart broken and one of my friends recently said to me oh, you must be just shoving chocolate down your throat, and I said no, actually, and she looked at me and said "you're more depressed than I thought... you're beyond help."

    thus the comparison with fridigity-- it's as if not loving chocolate makes me out of tune with my body and my emotions! down with the cacao-crats!


  25. Mmmmm....those pictures are delicious. As far as Swiss chocolate goes, I have to admit to being fully addicted to Lindt "Double Lait," "Double Lait Muesli Crisp" and Chocoletti fur Kinder. Primarily the latter. These are not expensive chocolate bars by any means, but they're what really does it for me. My friends, who have far more developed tastes for dark chocolate, drool everytime they walk past Walder or Suchard here in Neuchâtel. The Suchard chocolaterie actually started right here in Neuchâtel some hundreds of years ago... The locals are really crazy about Walder though, and with reason -- it's quite remarkable. All in house, small, handcrafted, pure ingredients, fresh. YUM!


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