Food

On the nuances of chocolate tasting and farming

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Martin Christy, a world leader in fine cacao tasting, roots for a strong bond between the chocolate farmers and the makers

Martin Christy has tasted over 10,000 kinds of chocolates in the last six years. There are days when he tastes over 150 samples in a day, and he is far from complaining. The founder of UK-based International Institute of Chocolate Tasting, and one of the main brains behind the international chocolate awards, the 65-year-old can be described as an authority on the subject. In Chennai to teach the country’s maiden chocolate tasting course, the gourmet takes some time off for a tête-à-tête with MetroPlus.

“Good chocolate can be as complex as fine wine or good coffee,” he says, “Nuances of flavour come from the variety of cacao, the terrain where it’s grown, the fermentation, the drying, the chocolate making... chocolate involves the longest processes in agriculture.”

On the nuances of chocolate tasting and farming

Christy has a lot to say about the agriculture, as far as chocolate goes. He roots for the “tropical, developing cacao-producing countries” of the world to reclaim their delicacy. He points out that the winner in the milk chocolate category at the recent World Chocolate Awards was a small Peruvian company. “A womanmaking chocolate in Lima, from cacao sourced from the Amazon region.”

The countries traditionally perceived to be leaders in quality chocolate are not the countries where the best cacao is grown. “If you are a French chocolate maker, and you have to go to Venezuela or Peru or Colombia to get your cacao, it’ll be like making wine in Argentina and importing the grapes from France. It doesn’t make sense.” Christy explains, “being close to the cacao” is imperative to the making of quality chocolate. “If you, as a chocolate maker, see some problem or want to change the process, you can take a train or drive or even a short flight, and be with the farmer in half a day’s time. You can work with the farmer and discuss,” he emphasises, “Most chocolate is not made that way.”

After wrapping up the course, he plans to make his way to rural Karnataka, for a visit with farmers who grow cacao in rotation with other crops. In the meantime, he will also interactwith local chocolate makers and culinary students, as well as have a dinner at ID, a restaurant specialising in South Indian cuisine.

“In the UK, we don’t have so much South Indian food. I like the lightness of it, the delicacy of the dosa.The flavourings of South Indian food are nice, some of those could go into flavoured chocolate bars. Starting with a base of quality chocolate, you can match the spices and make some amazing creations.”

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 6:19:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/on-the-nuances-of-chocolate-tasting-and-farming/article24252335.ece

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