Fathering Chocolate

by D. Prinz on June 11, 2015

cistercian_monks making chocolate-300x200Fathers, Dominicans that is, helped bridge the New World’s chocolate to the Old World. In 1544 Padres tantalized the Spanish court with chocolate prepared and presented by a Kekchi Maya delegation of New World natives. Fatherly faith indeed aided in spreading chocolate to new regions of the world, to new religious contexts, and to new appreciation.
As Europeans slowly acquired a taste for it, celebratory chocolate enhanced many Christian settings. Church leaders depended on chocolate for physical, economic, and spiritual sustenance. Eventually the chocolate appetites of sixteenth-and seventeenth-century Christian religious enrobed many members of the Church in the Old World. For them, chocolate became an instrument of adulation, an offering for the greater glory of God. In Spain, monks made chocolate, drank it in secret, and hoarded their supplies and recipes. The Cistercians at the monastery at Poblet in Spain designated a special room for chocolate drinking. Early chocolate adopter Alphonse de Richelieu (b. 1585), cardinal of Paris, first tasted chocolate, when his protégé Cardinal Mazarin brought a personal chocolate maker with him from Italy. In 1634 Mexican Jesuits were shipping chocolate to their brothers in Rome by way of Seville. For his submission to a poetry contest honoring the seventh birthday of King Charles II, a Carmelite friar referred to chocolate as “that inspirational Ambrosia.” Jesuit Father Roberti treated himself to a drink of what he called the “Mexican nectar” at his morning meal. He also sought inspiration from a bowl of chocolate when writing.
Back in the New World chocolate provided good road food as the church extended its mission to California along the El Camino Real of twenty-one missions. When Franciscan Father Junípero Serra left Spain for his duties in the New World, he nestled chocolate in his personal belongings. Storms required his ship to make port at Puerto Rico and a local mission there provided sustenance in the form of chocolate. Serra reported: “For eighteen days we ate better than in any convent, all drinking chocolate every day.”
We honor these fathers, actually all fathers, whether religious or not, with chocolate.

This has been cross posted from the Huffington Post.

Quatre Mendiants au Chocolat
Recipe for Mendiants:

Many fine chocolatiers today make delicacies called mendiants. These immortalize the mendicant (beggar) orders–Augustinians, Carmelites, Dominicans, and Franciscans–those that serve the poor and rely only on donations for support. Each nut and dried fruit in the mendiant symbolizes the color of the respective monastic robes: raisins for Dominicans, hazelnuts for Augustinians, dried figs for Franciscans, and almonds for Carmelites.
•    4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
•    1⁄4 cup cocoa nibs, almonds, or hazelnuts
•    1⁄4 cup candied ginger
•    1⁄4 cup dried blueberries or raisins
•    1⁄4 cup candied orange peel
1.    Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
2.    In a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stir the chocolate until melted.
3.    Remove the chocolate from the heat.
4.    Drop tablespoonfuls of chocolate onto the prepared baking sheet, using the back of the spoon to flatten into disks.
5.    Place one of each of the four toppings onto each circle.
6.    Work a few medallions at a time; they will harden as they cool.
7.    Cool on the baking sheet until hardened.
8.    Store in a cool place in a covered container.
About 20


Minding Our Chocolate

by D. Prinz on May 29, 2015

P1050924How does chocolate help you?

For me a piece of chocolate here and there smooths transitions from one project to another, one task to the next.

At a congregational visit after the Senior Rabbi blessed the Associate on her last Shabbat, someone said, “we need chocolate for our stress at her departure.”

At other stops On the Chocolate Trail several people have shared their approaches to using chocolate for meditation and mindfulness. Here are a few:
From Michelle Lalouche Kadden:
As a psychologist, I do a mindfulness eating exercise with a piece of chocolate. This can be useful for people with eating disorders or for anyone who wants to increase mindfulness. In a relaxed and slow pace, take one morsel of chocolate and slowly unwrap it, smell it first, then take a tiny piece into your mouth and allow it to melt on your tongue. Become aware of feelings that arise, or sensations, thoughts memories, even fears. Continue to slowly and mindfully become aware of your senses as you consume a piece of chocolate paying attention to all its qualities. It is helpful to talk about the experience after and notice whatever arises from it. This is a good exercise in a group as well.

Ellen Silverstein Levitt mentions:
I used foil wrapped candies with my ESL students when they were learning about senses. First, they looked at the wrapped candy, then they slowly unwrapped it and looked at it. Then, they smelled it, touched it and finally were able to eat it. Probably taught them some patience as well – all of life isn’t instant gratification!
Michael Shefrin writes:
Encourage your participant to breathe, get comfy in the chair, seek stillness, come to where they are.
Place in front of them a wrapped piece of chocolate (I love doing this with individually wrapped [pieces] with foil !! Take a moment to really look at the package, notice the colors, the ingredients, logos, size, the weight, pick it up  – engage all senses (except taste).
When ready, open slowly, hear it, smell, notice the change when the chocolate enters the air, where did it come from, who brought it to you, is there some significance that needs to be accompanying this exploration?
A Bracha/blessing would occur here if someone so chose to …
Slowly put in mouth, noticing each bite, does it stick in your teeth, is it melty, other elements & tastes, what are the sounds in your head, what are the sounds that someone else might hear, chew slowly, dissolve it on the roof of the mouth, feel the impact on individual teeth, swirl the tongue around in the gooey goodness …All senses should be engaged, close eyes, concentrate on the squishing in the mouth, don’t be in a rush to finish it …
When there is no more tangible chocolate, stop and continue to sit for a minute afterwards to notice the aftertaste, explore the surroundings, what do you do with the wrapper, are your fingers dirty, was there someone else in the room that joined you, what is their facial expression, etc ..
When ready … thank the One who brings forth Chocolate !!!

The manager of a fancy French chocolate store in Manhattan confessed:
She confessed that she has a metaphysical response to eating an intense 99% French chocolate just before she studies from the mystical text known as the Zohar.

Please feel free to share how minding your chocolate works for you.



Anschluss Launches Bartons Passover Favorites 77 Years Ago

March 11, 2015

Bartons Chocolate Pops. Bartons Almond Kisses. Do you long for these and other iconic Passover favorites made by Bartons Chocolate? They exist because of the March 12, 1938 Nazi accession of Austria (Anschluss) when Stephen Klein fled Vienna for his life. A Nazi competitor had seized Klein’s chocolate company. He hurriedly left his two children […]

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Ten Teaspoons of Sugar in My Chocolate?

February 26, 2015

The recently released revisions of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee for the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Health bring the conversation about sugar circling ‘round the measuring cup. These warnings against more than 10 teaspoons of added sugar a day boil up questions about nutrition. Surprisingly, just a century ago, nutritionists touted the […]

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Adventures On the Chocolate Trail: Atlanta, Portland, Seattle

January 31, 2015

In my recent travels speaking about On the Chocolate Trail, I have been able to sample some unusual chocolates and related products. Consider these: Atlanta:     From Chef Brulee amazing colors make the bon bons and the matzah very appealing.   *Chocoley  A source for making chocolate creations, including molds, compound chocolate , kits, utensils […]

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It’s Chocolate Season

November 30, 2014

Chocolate season started on November 1 for Joanne and Jerry Kryszek’s company, Chocosphere. This is the busiest time in their on-line chocolate wholesale and retail company which operates from a warehouse in a Portland suburb. I have known about the company for years and finally had the opportunity to meet the Kryszek’s and see their […]

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Chocolate Signals

September 12, 2014

The Trappistine nun appeared to levitate as she welcomed us at the factory door with urgent questions about how to market chocolate for Father’s Day, about aspects of kosher certification and about increasing their Chanukah sales. Sister Christa-Maria, in her Bavarian tinged English, broke the Benedictine prohibition against speaking to give us a tour of […]

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Can’t Live Without Chocolate?

August 22, 2014

  It seems a given that many of us depend on chocolate. Everywhere I speak about On the Chocolate Trail (Jewish Lights), people confess: “I can’t live without it.” And they want reassurance that the popular headlines about chocolate’s health advantages are true. Whether my body temperature slowly melts a mouthful, or, I am chomping […]

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Smiley Chocolate

June 13, 2014

We hit the mother lode. This chocolate factory came to us from Columbia, unlike the others we were fortunate to trek to in Belgium, England, France, Israel, Mexico, Spain, and Switzerland. To be precise to the David Zwirner gallery near the High Line in Chelsea. Oscar Murillo’s performance art installation, A Mercantile Novel, mashes up […]

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Saluting Military Chocolate

May 26, 2014

  Memorial Day recalls the tangible and serious sacrifices made by members of the US military. Chocolate has played a part in that here, as well as in Israel and Britain. When I came across these stories as I was researching On the Chocolate Trail, I was surprised at how important chocolate was for both […]

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