Chocolate is one of the good things in life that can accompany reading. Most of us will certainly be eating it over Easter, taking part in what has become an unashamed Western-world-wide choc-fest. (Norwegians, for example, ate 9 billion chocolate eggs in 2011.) In an effort to combat this edible obsession – which does rather overshadow the religious meaning of Easter – various churches in Britain have persuaded supermarkets to stock special Christian Easter eggs.
For those of us who like chocolate with their reading (or reading with their chocolate), here are ten ideas for combining two of the world’s greatest pleasures:
- Read and enjoy Joanne Harris’s delectable novel Chocolat. This is an especially good book to read over Easter: it begins in Lent and ends on Easter Sunday. In between you can read about an array of intriguing French characters (Vianne, Anouk, Roux…) and chocolates (white rum truffles, apricot marzipan rolls, bitter orange cracknel, creme de cassis…)
- Find a murder mystery where the ‘how-dunnit’ can be traced to a box of chocolates. I’d recommend Anthony Berkeley’s The Poisoned Chocolates Case ; Agatha Christie’s Poirot also investigates suspicious boxes of chocolates in his early cases and in Peril at End House.
- Visit the Haigh’s website (for research purposes.) Did you know that the optimum temperature for storing chocolate is 15-20 degrees Celsius, with low humidity?
- Read Alexander McCall -Smith’s Friends, lovers, chocolate. “Meet Edinburgh’s top amateur sleuth, Isabel Dalhousie. Her hobbies include classical music, young men and suspicious death.”
- Read then make this superb recipe from The Guardian (layered chocolate truffle cake with mocha creams.)
- Read chocolate-y non-fiction. I can recommend Mort Rosenblum’s Chocolate: a bittersweet saga of dark and light.
- Remember that chocolate is good for your brain ( all those flavanols) and indulge yourself accordingly.
- Read these quotations about chocolate for inspiration and then write your own Chocolate Poem (believe me, you couldn’t write anything worse than some of the examples here…)
- For anyone living in or visiting South Australia, I have personally tested and can highly recommend the Hahndorf Hills winery chocolate and wine matching experience! Read all about it here.
- Have a childhood moment and re-read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (remember the Chocolate River and the Oompa-Loompas?) And for a return to classic adolescent fiction, you can’t go past Robert Cormier’s remarkable novel The Chocolate War.