Keeping Up With The Penguins

Reviews For The Would-Be Booklover

Yummy! Best Books for Chocolate Lovers

Here at Keeping Up With The Penguins, Easter means two things: an extra-long weekend, and chocolate. Fun fact: I’m actually not a huge chocolate person myself (as I get older, I get more and more excited about cheese, and chocolate ends up languishing in my fridge for months), but even I can muster up some excitement for a bunny on Easter Sunday.

For the chocolate lovers out there, though, I know that this weekend is basically your Grand Final. Out of respect, this week I have pulled together something special, just for you: a list of the best books for chocolate lovers!

The Best Books For Chocolate Lovers - Black Text in White Box Overlaid on Image of Delicious Chocolate Cake Pops - Keeping Up With The Penguins

The True History of Chocolate – Sophie D. Coe and Michael D. Coe

Firstly, you must check this one out, if for no other reason than the heartbreaking story behind it! Sophie D. Coe was an author and anthropologist; her lifelong passion project was to write the definitive history of chocolate. She had long been fascinated by food and culinary history, and she spent years burying herself in the research. Suddenly, she was diagnosed with cancer, and given a prognosis of not-enough-time to finish her work. Her husband, Michael, promised to finish it on her behalf :O

The end result is this: a comprehensive discussion of all elements of the history of chocolate, drawing on everything from botany, to archaeology, to culinary history. The authors correct a bunch of misconceptions, they go into great details about the origins and significance of “the food of the gods”, and they even chuck in a few recipes. It’s rather academic, so it might come off as dry if you’re not accustomed to that style of writing, but if you’re desperate to know everything there is to know about the history of chocolate, this is the one for you!

Chocolat – Joanne Harris

Don’t worry, this list isn’t all heavy non-fiction reads! Joanne Harris’s story of a single mother opening a chocolaterie, right across the street from a Church on the first day of Lent, is probably the best known chocolate-based novel of the present age. It sparked a flurry of interest in “culinary fiction” and a highly-commended film. Harris’s protagonist takes on a small French town’s Christian conservatives, pushing back against their traditions of denial and deprivation with chocolate (and, yes, a little bit of magic). A fun, romantic read for the season!

Chocolate Wars – Deborah Cadbury

Even if you skipped over The True History of Chocolate with an eye-roll, surely a tell-all book by one of the Cadburys has to catch your attention! Chocolate Wars is an incredibly detailed exposé of the fierce business rivalry in the chocolate market over the last 150 years, culminating in a multi-billion dollar showdown threatening the dynasty’s Quaker roots. The business-minded reader will love how Cadbury expands into discussions about the importance of advertising and brand management, as well as the pitfalls of profit motive. For the rest of us, it’s just a delicious insight into those ubiquitous purple bars.




Chocolate Nations – Orla Ryan

I can’t, in good conscience, put together a list like this without paying at least some attention to the hard economic realities of chocolate, and how they impact the lives of tens of thousands around the world. Ryan’s amazing book examines the West African cocoa trade from a variety of perspective, pulls apart the logistics of the “fairtrade” label, and gives a fresh perspective on the role of governments and multinationals in the whole mess. It’s not fun to think about, but the fact is that many children work in slavery and many farmers live in poverty so that we can have Easter eggs. Chocolate Nations might be a bummer, but it’s also provocative and eye-opening. Just some food for thought 😉

Like Water for Chocolate – Laura Esquivel

OK, back to the fun stuff! Like Water For Chocolate had massive popularity in Spanish-speaking countries when it was released in 1989, and has since been translated into a bunch of other languages so the rest of us can enjoy it too. Set in Mexico, it follows the story of a young girl named Tita. Tita pines after her lover (Pedro), but their romance is impeded by her mother’s strict enforcement of the family tradition (that the youngest daughter must never marry, and instead care for her mother until she dies). Tita’s only escape is through her cooking, and each chapter commences with a fantastic (real!) Mexican recipe. A telenovela for your eyes and your stomach!


Dying for Chocolate – Diane Mott Davidson

This one is probably not the most intellectual read, but it’s light and easy, and full of food porn! Dying for Chocolate is part of a series of “culinary mysteries” featuring protagonist Goldy Bear (no, I’m not kidding, that’s seriously what Davidson called her). The bright, determined Goldy has escaped an abusive ex-husband and transplanted her catering business to the Aspen Meadow Country Club. All seems to be going well, until the death of a yummy doctor strikes Goldy as a bit suspicious, and she decides to do some detective-ing. Pick this one up if you want something silly and fun to demolish over the long weekend.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl

You didn’t think we could have a list of best books for chocolate lovers without including the holy text, did you? Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published back in 1964, so it has well and truly passed the test of time. Chocolate lovers everywhere rejoice in the tale of poor Charlie Bucket, plucked from obscurity and carrying his golden ticket all the way to the bizarre factory of eccentric chocolatier Willy Wonka. Who among us hasn’t dreamed of swimming in his chocolate river?

If you read it one too many times as a kid and find it a bit played out, maybe give the lesser-known sequel (Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator) a try.

Is your mouth watering? Mine is! What are you reading over Easter? Are you sticking with the chocolate theme, or are you trying something different? Let me know in the comments below (or update us at KUWTP on Facebook!).

 

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9 Comments

  1. Great post. I love food oriented books such as this. I delved into the worlds of artisanal cheese and craft beer as a result of reading books on the subjects. I do not know a lot about chocolate, but I know that I love it.

    • ShereeKUWTP

      March 31, 2018 at 8:16 PM

      Well, you’re in luck – there’s plenty of books to get you up to speed! 😉 I’d love to read more about artisanal cheeses, actually, now that you mention it – any recommended reads on that front??

  2. I’m not much of a chocolate fan myself, either. I’m DEFINITELY more of a cheese person as well! But the story begins the true history of chocolate is definitely heartbreaking!

  3. Aww, now I need some chocolate!! ^_^ Sadly none of my Easter weekend reads will be chocolate themed, but I’ll be eating lots of chocolate *while* I read! ^_^

  4. yer more of a cheese person as well, if you come up with recommended cheese reads then the mouse in my personality might be queueing at the book shop

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