Doreen PendgracsThis past July, Doreen Pendgracs launched Chocolatour: A Quest for the World’s Best Chocolate whereby the author invites readers to join her on a sensuous, taste-tempting journey of chocolate discovery. Aside from getting insider information about chocolate from various countries in Europe, Doreen explores topics such as how and where cacao becomes chocolate; various personalities of chocolate;  health benefits of chocolate; “chocogasms” and how to pair wine with chocolate—to name a few. Here we go … take it away Doreen!

Whatever possessed you to write a book about Chocolate?

I’ve always loved fine chocolate and loved to travel. The idea of writing a book that marries these two passions seemed like a good fit for me. Plus, I have a fascination with interesting people who are passionate about what they do. I’ve found chocolate makers to be among the most passionate people on the planet.

Where has your research taken you?

Peruvian women are responsible for cutting open the cocoa pods and removing the cocoa beans; generally the men of the community do the harvest.

Peruvian women are responsible for cutting open the cocoa pods and removing the cocoa beans; generally the men of the community do the harvest.

To 12 countries so far. I’ve done detailed profiles of chocolatiers and chocolate makers in Belgium, France, Switzerland, Holland, Italy, Spain, and the UK. These profiles are of people I have met and spent time with (for the most part.)

I also visited cacao-growong regions in Peru, Ecuador, and St. Lucia. And I have interviewed many chocolatiers/chocolate makers in Canada and the US.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned about chocolate?

How healthy it is, when it’s in its pure, natural state. I did a fairly comprehensive chapter about the health benefits of chocolate and learned that many myths are untrue. Chocolate is not bad for your skin or teeth if you are eating pure, dark chocolate of 70% cocoa or higher.  Chocolate contains many feel-good chemicals and actually has cannabinoid receptors that are similar to the THC found in marijuana. No wonder you can get giddy and feel high when eating several pieces of pure dark chocolate.

I understand you have more than one volume in mind. What’s next?

I had no idea as to the magnitude of this project, when I went on the first Chocolatour to Europe in the fall of 2009. I soon realized it would be an impossible task to try and cover the world in one swoop, so I opted to divide the planet geographically.

La Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers in the Grand Place of Brussels, Belgium, is a terrific place to explore the best of Belgian chocolate.

La Maison des Maitres Chocolatiers in the Grand Place of Brussels, Belgium, is a terrific place to explore the best of Belgian chocolate.

The first volume that was released mid-July focuses on the best (prepared) chocolate of Europe and the UK, with an additional chapter highlighting three growing regions. The second volume will focus on the Americas and the Caribbean, and the third volume will take in Asia, Africa, India, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand. I still have a lot of travelling to do for that! And then once the three volumes have been published, I will update and combine them into one mega-volume. That should take me until about 2018.

OK chocolate lovers out there … bring on the questions!

Meanwhile, check out the cover of Doreen’s book in yesterday’s post. And, for regular insights and recommendations about the wide world of chocolate, visit Doreen’s blog titled Chocolate Travel Diversions. http://diversionswithdoreen.com/

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3 Responses to Author! Author! Doreen Pendgracs

  1. Thanks so much for posting this interview, Sandra. I hope the chocolate lovers out there enjoy it. Cheers and happy travels.

  2. I always thought a chocolate tour would be the ideal vacation. Enjoy your researcy!

  3. Hi Janet: Yes, chocolate travel is a great way to go! Believe me … you an great chocolate experiences in virtually every part of the world. If you’re truly interested, please subscribe for updates to my site, and when we plan the next chocolatour, you can join us!

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