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alex_h
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February 9, 2005 - 10:28 am
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martin, i like the blog. i think it would be a good idea to create a heading under which your entries could be discussed. how about it?

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alex_h
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February 9, 2005 - 10:35 am
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your recent entry on belgian chocolate is a good thing. most people make that simple equation. how often have i heard: "i've got something good for you. it's belgian!"? many shell out good money (at airports 😉 for this stuff.
people often equate switzerland and germany with good chocolate as well. what i tell them is the following:
the swiss make good milk chocolate, the germans are good with kinderschokolade and the belgians make heavenly truffles.
if you like cadbury, go to the uk. it's all a matter of preferences. but it's nice when people get the facts straight and don't go looking for good bars in belgium.
i am not that picky when it comes to truffles and find the belgians make the best.

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Masur
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February 9, 2005 - 12:25 pm
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Greate Idea Alex!

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)
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Martin Christy
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February 10, 2005 - 8:38 am
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Thanks for feedback. I do intend to make direct-links to topics, just need the time to re-programme it.

I'm using some very basic blogging software at the moment, but am considering something more advanced. It would be possible to allow other people to blog as well, including I hope some chocolate names (e.g. Grenada). There's no point doing itthough if no one posts anything. What do you think, anyone interested - post a diary of your ongoing chocolate happenings?

Let me know.

Martin Christy
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Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
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alex_h
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February 10, 2005 - 9:25 am
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hmm, pickings would be meager if you had to rely on me in this case, since not much happens around here in the way of chocolate news. i would also be daunted by the fact that a blog is a bit more 'official' and permanent and i don't have such great trust in my abilities to blog anything noteworthy.

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Masur
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February 10, 2005 - 10:12 am
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Alex! You could write the ultimate guide to chocolate in Munich.

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)
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alex_h
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February 10, 2005 - 11:38 am
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hmm, well that's an idea, masur, but i've pretty much said what there is to say about munich in 'sources'.

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Masur
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February 10, 2005 - 12:13 pm
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That's true, but it's just bits and pieces. Not a guide that can be used as a roadmap.

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)

"Porcelana: The Holy Grail of Pure Criollos" (Maricel E. Presilla)
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Martin Christy
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February 10, 2005 - 11:08 pm
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A blog is supposed to be pretty informal anyway, not that different to what you would say here, just in a personal form rather than a conversation. Anyway, I will leave the idea open and we will see what happens.

Martin Christy
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Hans-Peter Rot
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February 11, 2005 - 3:45 am
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I just read the most recent blogs, and the one regarding the "alternate chocolate universe" tickled my fancy. I remember Martin and I talking about this last week: this alternate universe DOES exist, so to speak, in that the majority of the chocolate we all(and most of the other connoisseurs) eat is predomidantly Criollo and Trinitario. Let's face it: what is the ratio of Forastero chocolate to Criollo and Trinitario chocolate that we eat? But, then again, we're a small minority, and Forastero will continue to dominate the "bulk" market. That's okay by me, though. That means there's more of the quality beans for us [:D] And besides, as I've pointed out before (and what Martin alluded to in the blog), good chocolate can come from good Forasteros.

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alex_h
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February 11, 2005 - 9:45 am
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interesting idea, this forastero-free world. yet i think a time had to come where it was found and mass distributed, otherwise we might only know chocolate as a very rare and much more expensive treat nowadays, still reserved only for the best of earners as in former times when only the aristocracy could afford a sip.
on the other hand, if forastero had never been cultivated, criollo would have been more so, but genetic alteration is only a question of time, when something so desired is less robust than desired. somewhere down the criollo family tree some kind of hybridization would have had to have taken place, if not with forastero than maybe some other related plant.
one interesting aspect of the mass production of forastero is the work being put into criollo chocolate. sometimes something 'bad' has to happen to elevate the 'better' and i believe for every good thing there is a conterpoint.

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Hans-Peter Rot
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February 11, 2005 - 5:08 pm
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Good points, alex, but I have some questions. How are you so certain that the demand for chocolate would be so high as to require genetic alteration of Criollos to satisfy world demand? If only the elite could afford such a luxury, then the demand simply wouldn't exist due to limited availability. It just happened to take off the way it did because of the abundance of Forastero and the new technological advancements that allowed for its exploitation. Sure, one can genetically alter and reproduce Criollos, but this technology is only a recent phenomenon, so it would still be quite some time until enough test-tube Criollos could be produced for the world population.

Also, let us equate cacao with the real fungus truffles. These are also finicky growers and is a food reserved for those who can afford their high price. Why haven't any attempts been made to grow them in simulated environments so that everyone can enjoy them? (Maybe they have, but I haven't read any reports, nor seen any results from even the first attempt). If viewed in this light, I bet cacao would be treated in the same manner, i.e. reserved for only the people who can afford it.

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Sebastian
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February 11, 2005 - 5:28 pm
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What if there were a way to make forestero's taste like criollo's, w/o genetic engineering...

Remember, automobiles were once thought to be luxury items, now are staples of life.

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alex_h
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February 11, 2005 - 5:34 pm
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no, i cannot be certain, since we are on hypothetical grounds here. the thoughts simply came to mind. however, i think chocolate - what we here consider chocolate - is a taste that would appeal to a broader spectrum of consumers than truffles.
the technology i was speaking of is hybridization, creation of trinitario beans and so on. all you would need is a situation as in the 1700s, when climate and demand crossed paths and the trinitario came into being. simple as that. a chain of events would begin that would lead to a situation similar to the one we have now.

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Sebastian
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February 11, 2005 - 9:38 pm
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and - hypothetically of course - if there was a technology that didn't involve genetics, hybridization, grafting, use of flavor additives, etc, that allowed IC foresteros to taste like venezuelan criollos?

I agree with you - the broad stage appeal is set. the issue is one of supply, not demand. create sufficient demand, and you'll find a way - conventional or not - to provide the supply.

some of the appeal is in the packaging and in the scarcity. it looks pretty, and there's a good portion of the world that can't afford it. it's exclusive. if the exclusivity were to disappear, what's the impact? if i really can make IC foresteros taste like something rare, is that a good thing? it's a fascinating technical project. i wonder what the marketing impacts are..

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Hans-Peter Rot
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February 12, 2005 - 12:20 am
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Also, you have to consider the need for the product. Sure, automobiles were once scarce and regarded as luxuries for the elite, but as time passed, more efficient means of transportation became necessary, not only for transporting people but for objects too. It almost became necessary for automobiles to become available for everyone's use, regardless of financial income or social status. It was simply convenient and indeed compulsory if any kind of societal advancements were to occur. So, basically, it's not ONLY desire, I suppose, but NEED as well. And do you see a dire need for cacao in today's world? Sure, it's consumption rate is rather high in certain parts of the world but only because it's readily available. The farmers, growers, workers, etc. who handle and take care of the beans have probably never eaten the final product, i.e. a chocolate bar, in their lives and nor do they have an urgent desire to do so. The need nor desire for such things does not exist on that type of global level. It's only Western society that has venerated cacao to such an industrial and readily available commodity. So, in a sense, it's not about who can afford it and who can't, but who truly wants it or if it's economical or practical to have that item around in their current environment.

Alex, how can you be certain chocolate appeals to a greater spectrum of people than truffles? Most of society has never eaten a truffle, and if they finally did at one point, how would they respond? Furthermore, if truffles were actually as readily available as their other fungi counterparts, I bet you doughnuts for dollars more people would use them. It's all about availability, price, and practicality.

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Sebastian
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February 12, 2005 - 2:38 am
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True, to a point, but I'm going to venture a guess that the average american family doesn't own 3.4 cars out of necessity 😎

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Hans-Peter Rot
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February 12, 2005 - 3:56 am
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No, but I was referring mainly to the idea and the actual manifestation of it via the invention of the automobile. Indeed, it's the technological innovation that's important here and not what it has become. Humankind acts on its environment and as society becomes more complex, the environment has less of an impact on it. Hence, the 3.4 cars per household [;)] We've harnessed enough energy and transformed it into productivity to such a high degree that we can afford such luxuries. When Western society utilized the new energy, i.e. automobiles, it grew and exapanded. Our prior constraints were therefore broken, and we were allowed to move up the clutural "evolutionary" scale, as it were.

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alex_h
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February 14, 2005 - 11:26 am
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you're right, monte, maybe truffles would have a greater appeal. i can't say. but i've heard chocolate is the food most craved. that could cause some movement in the supply/demand department 😉

you say we act less on our environment? but we are our own environment. we create and sustain supply and demand.

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Hans-Peter Rot
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February 14, 2005 - 5:12 pm
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Again, alex, exposure is the important factor to consider. The reason why chocolate is craved on such a wide scale is because most of Western society has been exposed to it. If one hasn't eaten chocolate in his life, then how can he crave that particular food specifically? I also point out that chocolate consumption occurs mainly in Western society and not in pre-Industrial societies or in smaller scale societies. Sure, it has its roots in Mesoamerican history, but it's been populairzed and commodified to such a Western extent, that it has essentially lost all of its ancient associations. Such detachment occurs often, and indeed, I think that this is one strong factor contribtuing to the "Mexican chocolate" or "chile chocolate" popularity, which seeks to reunite the two and place chocolate back in its contextual association. How many people have shocked espressions on their faces when they hear of the pairing of chocolate and chile? Quite a few, and this, imo, is the result of a Western globalization pattern in the chocolate scheme.

As society grows and becomes more technologically advanced, the environment becomes less of a factor for its society because there is less for that society from which to draw. In other words, the resources and energy provided by the environment have been harnessed so efficiently that minimal effort is required to use it, and as a result, life becomes "easier," luxuries become commodities: hence, any complications exerted onto that society by the environment have been eliminated because solutions have been solved to overcome them.

Supply and demand is something created by the society and differs on a cultural basis. Of course, environments will differ accordingly and incongruously, but that's the beauty of it all: diversity and humankind's ability to ADAPT to various conditions. Society A's needs might differ tremendously from Society B's, based on environmental circumstances, but if you Westernize the two and provide the two with the same technology, then sure, different outcomes will result based on what's presented to them, but essentially the same needs will be fulfilled: food, water, clothing, shelter, etc. As the technology becomes more sophisticated, the less energy we expend utilizing and harnessing the environment's resources, and thus we all become the same industrialized society, with of course varying cultural heritages and practices. This is where the demand changes too, because as technology evolves, demands do likewise, but that's another story....

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