What started as a simple craving for a cup of Italian hot chocolate led to memories of drinking it while eating zabaglione-filled paste in Baratti & Milano, one of many historic Torinese salons. Thinking I could probably melt down a Valrhona bar and make some of the thick elixir on my own, I decided to seek advice from my friend Google. Like all good friends, she led me to something I would have otherwise not seen: CioccolaTO, Torino’s Festival of Chocolate. The festival takes place throughout Piemonte, and is based in downtown Turin, in Piazza Vittorio Veneto, one of the largest public squares in all of Europe.
I’ve never really understood how it is that Italian chocolate isn’t more highly regarded outside of Italy. Could it be that so many of its finest chocolates are produced by relatively small players? I don’t really know, but I was encouraged to read mention of Tuscan Slitti in Julia Moskin’s New York Times article on milk chocolate last week.
In any case, just about all European chocolate is better than my home state’s pride and joy: Hershey’s. While I’ve been known to enjoy a Hershey’s kiss now and then, I got a kick out of these two paragraphs from Moskin’s article:
Everywhere but at home, American milk chocolate — specifically Hershey’s — is known for its tangy or sour flavor, produced by the use of milk that Mr. Landuyt refers to as “acidified.” Although Hershey’s process has never been made public (and a spokeswoman declined to comment on its techniques), experts speculate that Hershey’s puts its milk through controlled lipolysis, a process by which the fatty acids in the milk begin to break down.
This produces butyric acid, also found in Parmesan cheese and the spit-up of babies; other chocolate manufacturers now simply add butyric acid to their milk chocolates. It has a distinctive tang that Americans have grown accustomed to and now expect in chocolate. “I can’t think of any other reason why people would like it,” said Mr. Whinney, of Theo Chocolate.
What a hoot! So here I am; got so caught up in reading all about chocolate that I no longer actually feel like eating any myself. This may be a first. Maybe I’ll get back to making that Italian hot chocolate over the weekend.