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Editorial February 2004
How Many Ways Can You Say Chocolate?
By Martina Bexte

For many of us, the day would not be complete without at least a tiny nibble of chocolate, whether it's that miniature sized Coffee Crisp stashed away in case of emergency (like when the family or the boss is making too many demands on our time), or a cup of steamy hot cocoa sipped after the kids are safely tucked away in their beds. And certainly most women of the world agree that Valentine's Day wouldn't be complete without some form of chocolate; the really expensive stuff packed in delicate silver boxes and festooned with dainty bows comes immediately to mind.

ChocolatThere's just something about chocolate - slowly melting on the tongue and firing those needy endorphins in overtaxed brains - that somehow manages to tame the raging beast, if only for a short while. Nor is it a secret that chocolate is an aphrodisiac -- the Aztecs always thought so, and scientists have finally validated that cacao is indeed good for us. However, they advise that like red wine, chocolate should be consumed in small quantities. Researchers also inform us that it's components within the dark and bittersweet varieties that are most medicinally beneficial.

But if chocolate, in its many edible forms, just isn't for you this Valentine's Day, there are plenty of books that'll give you almost the same high as the real thing. One that always comes first to mind is Joanne Harris's magical fable Chocolat. We see how the arrival of Vianne Rocher and her young daughter Anouk changes the lives of the citizens of a small French town, once they taste the sweet confections offered by the vivacious chocolatier (the delicious movie version stars Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche).

Chocolate Cat CaperOr how about Joanna Carl's Chocolate Frog Frame Up? Lee McKinney and her aunt barely debut their new chocolate frogs when people start dropping dead all around them. What a way to go!! G. A. McKevett's Death by Chocolate has private investigator Savannah Reid agreeing to protect the 'Queen of Chocolate' after the network star receives one too many threatening letters. Diane Mott Davidson's Dying For Chocolate is 'the perfect recipe for the chocaholic mystery lover.' And Joanna Carl's Chocolate Cat Caper serves up chocotrivia, in addition to a gourmet mystery.

Looking for something more realistic to chew on? Then take a look at Joel Glenn Brenner's Emperors of Chocolate, the intriguingly bittersweet story of Forrest Mars' and Milton Hershey's competitive rise to the top of the candy heap. Want to create chocolate decadence in your own kitchen? Then sample Celebrate With Chocolate, an enticing cookbook by renowned chef Marcel Desaulniers, featuring 45 recipes that range from simple to complicated, and sure to please any palate.

Finally, delicious word play and a genuinely funny story are the order of any day in Fred Gwynn's A Chocolate Moose for Dinner. Kids of all ages will devour this one - but don't forget to brush your teeth after you turn the last page!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.