Why I changed (back, and forward...)
I’ve been making chocolate in different forms since 2010. Most of this time has been experimental, and in a way my exploratory spirit has gotten me down, because I feel that in ways it has held me back from creating a constant product, one based on objective lines and rules, one that’s smoothly ready for the shelf. I’m not against that, but I’ve had to wind and find my way to get back there, back home. And by home I mean that happy place of creating what you are. When you are a chocolate maker you are also a philosopher. You are asking yourself why you are doing this in the first place, and in the second place, how can you create something that matters?
My mind is so open to new tastes and textures that I sometimes get lost in what is really “good.” That’s a hard thing to call. As they say there’s no accounting for taste, so really we should be trying to create joy. I know I will never be the best chocolate maker, that’s not my goal, but I do want to create my best experience.
And while I can’t pinpoint the exact object and moment that most recently cracked my tooth, I could gradually feel the aftermath. Maybe that’s not the best comparison, but it was something like that - this summer while traveling I had a taste of something that didn’t strike me at first, but I found myself days and weeks after thinking about it. It was this bar from Jakub Piątkowski I received at the wonderful Kosak in Paris. I bought several bars and this one was special at first because it was my first experience of a Polish bean-to-bar chocolate maker, something that touched me because my ancestors immigrated from Poland.
The other bars I bought were great of course, each beautiful for its own form and each maker’s touch. But I found myself reaching back for this petite bar, nibbling little by little and being all the happier for it. There was a complexity and strength to it that was on the verge of overpowering, and then a lingering flavor of elderberry jam.
I realized, in these weeks that followed, that that surprise of flavor, that berry burst of flavor, was what I was missing in my own chocolate, chocolate I’ve been making for years. I’ve always changed with it - adding cocoa butter, subtracting it, roasting a lot, a little, pressing our own cocoa butter, grinding until it was creamy smooth, or not. I’ve tried all kinds.
In a quiet way, coming back, settling back down with the clouds of the trips swirling around me, and in a way that an artist picks up her paintbrush after a time - I changed. I simply breathed in and felt my experiences and how they had changed me, and I reached out and created something new. Mind open just a bit more, and feeling more at home.
So this is why I’m excited for these most recent batches I’ve made, for you to get to try them. It’s small but it’s important. And maybe it won’t even be noticed. In a way it’s just stepping back to what has always been, but it takes a life of encounters to get there.
Oh and the blog image is of Minou with coffee my new friend Mahtab shared with me, another sweet person whose meeting changed me on this trip :)