owlfish: (Feast)
S. Worthen ([personal profile] owlfish) wrote2015-10-18 11:02 pm

Tasting chocolate

One of the highlights of going to the Chocolate Show today was a panel called "Judging the Judges".

The award winners of a raft of major chocolate awards were announced this weekend at the show; this panel was intended as a light-hearted way of letting some award-winning chocolatiers get their revenge by reviewing chocolate created by the people doing the judges. The confections were all created fairly last-minutely - not works of long love and labor the way the real competition's entries are.

I learned that chocolate competition judges
* recalibrate their palate periodically by tasting the same non-competition chocolate they started with and comparing their current tasting notes for it with what they noted at the start of the day
* they refresh their palate by eating little cubes of plain, unsalted polenta
* when judging the World Chocolate Awards, a jury has to taste and assess about 80 chocolates over about 8 hours, every day
* A judge I spoke with longed for salty foods at the end of a day of judging.

Particularly wonderful comments, by chocolatiers, assessing the real judges' creations:
* "This chocolate tastes like three things I put in my mouth by accident."
* "It's an idea. It should have stayed as an idea."
* Host: "What was your favorite part of this chocolate?" Chocolatier: "The polenta." (palate refresher afterward)
* Host: "What was your favorite chocolate from the tasting?" Chocolatier (likely the same one): "The breadstick."
* "This has a particular blandness which is hard to achieve." (an actual judge from the audience)
* An anti-Belgian chocolate chocolatier from Belgium: "We use Belgian chocolate for biscuits, not for production."

In an interesting moment of historicity, the session's host told us that Nutella originated as a Napoleonic war product. (Instead of the WWII product that it is.) There's a very long tradition of people assuming/arguing things are older than they actually are. It was nice to document one in the wild.

[identity profile] pfy.livejournal.com 2015-10-24 04:04 am (UTC)(link)
In an interesting moment of historicity, the session's host told us that Nutella originated as a Napoleonic war product. (Instead of the WWII product that it is.)

There's something curious going on here. The Nutella brand dates back to 1964, though Ferrero had sold a similar spread under the name "Supercrema" since 1951. The Ferrero company says that Supercrema was invented as a spreadable version of their "pasta gianduja", a low-budget gianduia that they produced in the 1940s as a way of using hazelnuts to eke out the rationed chocolate supply. However, this is suspiciously similar to a commonly-repeated story about the origin of gianduia itself: that it was invented during the Napoleonic Wars because naval blockades had made chocolate scarce and expensive. I would be really interested to know if the "adding hazelnuts to make chocolate go further" meme has ever turned up in a pre-WW2 source.

There's a very long tradition of people assuming/arguing things are older than they actually are.

Hang on, are you sure it's a very long tradition? ;-)