For me, I think it's the "artistry" of chocolate that fascinates me the most. By artistry I mean several things....the beauty of packaging, the creativity one puts forth to create the right "look" for a piece, etc.
Well i only worked with the chocolatier for a little while but it was a good experience. I just wished I could of worked with him for a longer time. I really enjoy working with chocolate and want to do more of it.
So what do you like about chocolate? And how does it facinate you?
You say you're starting a PhD? It's not too late for me to tell you not to do it? :)
Being near the end is an interesting experience....but I'll let you discover the highs and lows yourself. One important resource for PhD students is this website: PhDcomics.com
Regarding chocolate and cocoa beans - I'd be very happy to tell you what I know about cocoa. Ask me any question, I'll try to answer, or refer you to somewhere. Your topic also sounds interesting. I'd love to know more about Native American culture.