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On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao

IS THIS BOOK FOR YOUR GROUP?

Would your group enjoy a sumptuous adventure through the history of one of the world’s favorite delicacies—chocolate? This exciting book shows the fascinating intersections of Jews, Quakers and other Protestants, pre-Columbians and Catholics along the chocolate trail and explores the lasting rituals involving chocolate that the world’s faith traditions have practiced. Includes seventeen unique and delicious recipes that can be made and shared with your group!

6 x 9, 272 pp w/ 20+ b/w photographs, Paperback, 978-1-58023-487-0    $18.99  

Other formats available:     kindle  |   nook  |   iBooks  |   kobo

Take a delectable journey through the religious history of chocolate—a real treat!

Explore the surprising Jewish and other religious connections to chocolate in this gastronomic and historical adventure through cultures, countries, centuries and convictions. Rabbi Deborah Prinz draws from her world travels on the trail of chocolate to enchant chocolate lovers of all backgrounds as she unravels religious connections in the early chocolate trade and shows how Jewish and other religious values infuse chocolate today.

With mouth-watering recipes, a glossary of chocolaty terms, tips for buying luscious, ethically produced chocolate, a list of sweet chocolate museums around the world and more, this book unwraps tasty facts such as:

  • Some people—including French (Bayonne) chocolate makers—believe that Jews brought chocolate making to France.
  • The bishop of Chiapas, Mexico, was poisoned because he prohibited local women from drinking chocolate during Mass.
  • Although Quakers do not observe Easter, it was a Quaker-owned chocolate company—Fry’s—that claimed to have created the first chocolate Easter egg in the United Kingdom.
  • A born-again Christian businessman in the Midwest marketed his caramel chocolate bar as a “Noshie,” after the Yiddish word for “snack.”
  • Chocolate Chanukah gelt may have developed from St. Nicholas customs.
  • The Mayan “Book of Counsel” taught that gods created humans from chocolate and maize.

“Bravo! ... Takes us on a roller coaster roll through the history of chocolate, from the beginning when it was only used as a drink to the present day.... A great read.”

Joan Nathan, award-winning cookbook author, Jewish Cooking in America; Quiches, Kugels, and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France; and other books

“A joy for history and chocolate buffs.... Traces the exciting and curious aspects of the evolution of chocolate. The reader is rewarded with fascinating nuggets of chocolate lore, as well as several yummy chocolate recipes.”

Carole Bloom, CCP, author, Intensely Chocolate and Truffles, Candies and Confections

“Meticulously researched and whimsically presented. Fascinating facts, amusing anecdotes and mouth-watering recipes.... An instant classic for chocolate devotees of all faiths!”

Francine Segan, food historian, chocolate expert and James Beard nominated cookbook author of Dolci: Italy’s Sweets

“Yes, separate milk from meat. And wool from linen. But do not separate Jews from chocolate. They shall be yoked together for all time. And now we have the definitive book on the topic, an eloquent and astutely researched history.”

A.J. Jacobs, editor-at-large, Esquire magazine; author of the New York Times bestseller, The Year of Living Biblically: One Man’s Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible, and other books

“This engaging journey into the extraordinary past of a much-loved product is packed with fascinating stories and thrilling bits of information.”

Claudia Roden, food writer and author of almost twenty classic works on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cookery; most recently, the award-winning The Book of Jewish Food

“Calling all chocoholics.... I devoured this book. Readers beware! Stash fine chocolate in your pack before setting off on this delicious journey across time and space.”

Pamela S. Nadell, Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History, American University; author, Women Who Would be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination, 1889–1985

“A treat! Part history, part travelogue, part cookbook, [it] ... will tantalize all readers and delight chocoholic ones.”

Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University

“A knowledgeable, surprising and, of course, delicious book. Chocolate lovers (and that includes just about everyone) and Jewish historians alike will be delighted.”

Leah Koenig, author, The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook

“Fascinating and entertaining ... if you’re interested in Jews or chocolate, you’re gonna like this book. If you’re interested in both, you’re gonna love it :-). Like chocolate itself—wonderful as a gift, or you could just get one for you yourself.”

Nigel Savage, founder, Hazon: Jewish Inspiration, Sustainable Communities

“A fascinating ramble through the history of chocolate and the roles—sometimes central, sometimes peripheral—that Jews have played in bringing it from the forests of Africa and Spanish America to your table. The recipes are a tasty bonus.”

David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson, authors, A Drizzle of Honey: The Lives and Recipes of Spain’s Secret Jews

“A delightful, fascinating read full of history, religion, ethics, anecdotes and recipes that will make you hungry.”

Paula Shoyer, author, The Kosher Baker: 160 Dairy-Free Desserts from Traditional to Trendy

“Prinz is an engaging storyteller. … Her passion for all things Jewish and chocolatey is infectious. ”

Jewniverse

“One-of-a-kind.… Interesting … always sweet.”

San Diego Jewish World

“The first book to tackle the subject of Jews and chocolate at any significant length…. Lively and convincing.”

Jewish Daily Forward

Download a printable version

  • What surprised you the most about the connections in the book between chocolate and religion?
  • Do you agree with the criteria for selecting quality chocolate that Prinz lays out? Would you add anything else? Which certifications will you look for in your future chocolate purchases?
  • Did you have any favorite chocolate rituals, customs or stories in your family or community? (Share them in the Chocolate Chronicles! www.jews-onthechocolatetrail.org/contact)
  • The Catholic Church exhibited ambivalence toward chocolate. Why do you think there was less ambivalence in the Jewish community?
  • Which of the several narratives about chocolate makers resonated most for you and why?
  • What might these findings about chocolate and religion suggest about the future of interreligious dialogue?
  • What adventures might be next on your personal chocolate trail?

Chocolate Tasting Suggestions for Book Clubs: Since it is very hard to read or discuss chocolate without eating any, here are some tasting suggestions for participants to consider:

Prepare recipes from the book to share.

Bring favorite chocolate treats or recipes.

Invite local chocolate maker(s) to contribute samples and/or speak to your group.

How did you discover the connections between religion and chocolate?
I wandered into a chocolate store in Paris and happened to pick up a brochure that I fortunately was able to read in my high school French. It described how Jews were the first to bring chocolate to France. This amazing morsel of history had been overlooked in my serious Jewish education. With further exploration I learned about the significant, provocative and intriguing chocolate stories of Mayans and Aztecs, Catholics and Quakers.

How and where did you conduct your research and chocolate tasting?
Chocolate sleuthing occurred during travels within the United States and to several other countries, including Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Spain and Switzerland. My chocolate discoveries also were unearthed in numerous libraries and archives.

Did you discover a special genetic connection to chocolate?
Yes, I call it choco-dar, my internal, serendipitous radar for chocolate discoveries and experiences. I suspect that readers of the book may have a similar proclivity to choco-dar and I would love to hear about it. (Submit stories at: www.jews-onthechocolatetrail.org/contact)

What are a few of the more surprising findings from your research?
Well, of course, my first surprising discovery was that some people—including French (Bayonne) chocolate makers—believe that Jews brought chocolate making to France. Here are some of my other favorites:

  • The bishop of Chiapas, Mexico, was poisoned because he prohibited local women from drinking chocolate during Mass.
  • The Mayan “Book of Counsel” taught that gods created humans from chocolate and maize.
  • Although Quakers do not observe Easter, it was a Quaker-owned chocolate company—Fry’s—that claimed to have created the first chocolate Easter egg in the United Kingdom.
  • A born-again Christian businessman in the Midwest marketed his caramel chocolate bar as a “Noshie,” after the Yiddish word for “snack.”
  • Chocolate Chanukah gelt may have developed from St. Nicholas customs.

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz is a popular speaker on the subject of chocolate, Judaism and other religions. A writer and educator, she has published essays about chocolate in popular and professional journals. She is the creator of Jews on the Chocolate Trail, a blog about the connections between Jews and chocolate (visit www.jews-onthechocolatetrail.org).

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz is available to speak on the following topics:

• Jews on the Chocolate Trail

• Did Jews Introduce Chocolate to France?

• Chanukah and Christmas Chocolate Melt into Gelt

• Our Dark Addiction to Chocolate — Making Ethical Decisions in Our Chocolate Eating

Click here to contact the author.


Looking for an inspirational speaker for your reading group?

Jewish Lights authors are available to speak and teach on a variety of topics that educate and inspire. For more information about our authors who are available to speak to your group, visit . To book an event, contact the Jewish Lights Speakers Bureau at or call us at (802) 457-4000.



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