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Chocolate, language, and thought: A pilot study

Dear Chocolate Life Members:

I am a PhD student who is designing a study about chocolate, language, and thought. I am interested in studying the language people use to describe tasting experiences with chocolate. In addition, I wanted to make you aware that I do hope to publish my findings.

If you would like to participate in my study, please answer the questions below. Please note that I am only looking at how you describe chocolate. All answers are confidential. I will not use any personally identifying information in the reporting of the results. If you prefer to respond to me privately, send me an e-mail. Here is the link to my page.

Thank you.

Please describe the best chocolate you’ve ever tasted. In your descriptions, please include details such as:

(1) What kind of chocolate was it? Do you remember the brand? What do you remember about the flavor? How would you describe it? Do you recall if it was dark, milk, or white chocolate?

(2) Where were you when you tasted the chocolate? Do you think that the location contributed to the quality of your tasting experience?

(3) What was it about your chocolate tasting experience that made the chocolate memorable?

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I'd like to re-word my answer as the chocolate that I've enjoyed the most. I don't like using qualitative words like "best" to describe chocolate. Tasting chocolate is a subjective experience based on my tastes and experience. For example, I don't much care for the red wine/red fruit taste of many bars, but others like that. To each his own preferences. It's totally impossible to determine the definitive "best" chocolate.

But of the 353 bars that I've tasted and reviewed the one I've enjoyed the most was... Amedei Chuao.

OK, I know that I join lots of people on this bandwagon, but I think there must be a reason for this. To me it was sublime. What intrigued me the most is the tremendous range of flavors.

I've attached my review notes. Even though I use numerical values to quantify my enjoyment those are all to help break down my own personal enjoyment of different categories. The rating isn't generated by the score, but it merely informs it. I give a rating in comparison to the other chocolates I've tasted.

If you email me I'll try to answer the rest of your questions too. I don't have much time right now.

I find this topic very intriguing because I often find it quite hard to describe and differentiate what I taste. Plus the descriptions are only by analogy (like red wine, mango, tobacco, roast, ham...) and these often break down. (For example, I've never tasted dirt, hay, or leaves...) I look forward to your findings.
EMILY: As a chocoholic, I have tasted hundreds of brands of dark chocolate. My favorite is Ocumare, produced by Chocovic, a Spanish company, from Criolo beans from Venezuela. It is 70 percent dark, with a fruity flavor.
I ate it at home, and soon started using it to make truffles. --Arnold Ismach
1, I agree that the Chuo is one of the best, impreccably crafted, but I have to distinguish between percentage of cacao. I've had a 90 percent bar that was stunning. YOu cannot compare apples and pears. For me, the best is always dark and always around 70% or higher...rarely above 82%...
2, I do my serious tasting in my home, here at my desk. So, no, no romantic location. I totally focus on the tasting experience.
3. My minded, curious.

Emily...are you in PA? I think we spoke once by email.
No, I'm in Oklahoma.
I really can't go too long without going back to the Bonnat Chuao. It is rich, fruity, plum and berry, with deep rich notes that leave me craving more. It is a very difficult chocolate to resist. The next i really enjoy is from Rogue Chocolatier..Hispaniola. a really amazing chocolate the makes the tastebuds sing and dance with layers of flavors. This is a 70% bar. Go out of your way to try some....
My first and most vivid recollection of chocolate dates back to the fifties when I was a kid in primary school.
I was returning home at 4 Pm and was greeted by my parents and grandmother having tea in the loggia of our home in Tunis
I was given a small bar of Nestle dark chocolate or sometimes Suchard ( because they had color images of exotic places to be glued in an album) with a piece of fresh bread. My parents had tea and "Petits beurre Lu." I was home.
I suspect they too had some chocolate but was too busy to notice
Since then, I have enjoyed many good chocolates. Valrhona has consistently been a source of pleasant memories but never as permanent as my 4 o clock humble bar.
Since I was not particularly fond of school, it is possible that the combination of fresh bread and slightly gritty chocolate was peceived as an antidote to the hardship of the day and that Nestle was only the catalyst of pleasure by default. Nevertheless, it is a fond chocolate memory.
1. First I had read about Claudio Corallo in the book Chocolate by Mort Rosenblum and was intrigued by how his chocolate would taste. Mort had written that it was very rare and difficult to find so of course my interest was piqued. Later I got hold of the Zingermans catalog and was looking through the chocolate when I found a Corallo dark chocolate bar produced by Pralus for no less than $16. Obviously I had to have it. I ordered it and eagerly awaited the delivery.

2. When it arrived my husband and I opened it up in the kitchen and cut off a block of it (it was a very big bar) with a knife and it splintered all over the place. We both put a piece in our mouths and it was unbelievable. A revelation. Who knew that chocolate could taste like this? It was sour and tangy and a bit rough from bits of nibs. Usually that disturbs me but it seemed befitting for this exotic of a chocolate. I remember thinking that it was definitely worth the sixteen dollars.

3. The chocolate was probably so memorable because of the buildup and expectation involved, from reading about it, to finding it, to having it arrive and then finally tasting it. The best part is that it wasn´t a disappointment, even after all that.
Funny all the mentions of Chuao...must be a pretty magical place.

My favorite chocolate is a Valrhona 2002 Chuao, 70% cacao. I first tasted it in 2007 and it was my first experience with "aged" chocolate. I remember it being gloriously smooth, fruity, tangy, with lots of citrus & raisins. I tasted it again in 2008 and found it to be even more citrusy than I remembered.

I was at home, nowhere special

What was memorable was the mystique surrounding it--my supplier at Chocosphere told me about his stash and it was the first I'd ever heard of someone aging chocolate in a wine cellar. I love fruity chocolate, so when I tasted it I fell in love. So flavorful, the taste explodes & unfolds in your mouth. Yum.


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