French chocolate?
Never heard of it.

french chocolate

It's a delicious secret that the French kept for themselves for decades.

It's not talked about much especially since two of France's neighbors, Switzerland and Belgium, are world renowned for their gourmet chocolate. So, what makes it so special?

Like Switzerland and Belgium, France prides itself on the high quality of its chocolate.

Skillful French maitres chocolatiers ("master chocolate makers") surpass themselves creating unique pieces with passion and patience. Each chocolate morsel delicately combines high quality chocolate with a variety of quality ingredients including exotic fruits and spices from around the globe.

Unlike the Swiss and Belgians, the French have a definite preference for dark chocolate. Maybe that's why Xavier Brebion is quoted as saying, “Life is like chocolate, it’s the bitter that makes one appreciate the sweet.”

Chocolate was first introduced to France in the 17th century when the Spanish princess, Anne of Austria, wedded the King of France, Louis XIII. The French royal court quickly became infatuated with the spicy beverage from Mesoamerica.

Many attributed a myriad of therapeutic virtues to the cocoa bean. They praised its digestive, restoring, and aphrodisiac properties. Others denounced the consumption of the exotic bean as a dangerous vice. But chocolate’s irresistible allure eventually won out and it was sold in pharmacies in France.

In 1901 The French Academy of Chocolate and Candy Making was established. It's comprised of 40 chocolate “experts” such as maitres chocolatiers, university professors, lawyers, and writers. Each year, the Academy awards a person dedicated to the endorsement of the tradition of French chocolate-making with the "Prize of the Academy".

The Academy has lobbied against a European law enabling the use of certain vegetable fats other than pure cocoa butter in chocolate. (Mon Dieu!) For French chocolate lovers everywhere, this would be a major faux pas.

french chocolate

Chocolate is inevitably tied to the French sense of style. This bond is celebrated annually at the Salon du Chocolat (Chocolate Trade Show), founded in Paris by Sylvie Douce and François Jeantet to promote the varieties and uses of chocolate.

The show is held around the world: in Paris, New York, Tokyo, Moscow, Dubai, and Beijing. Here maitres chocolatiers exhibit and sell their products in addition to participating in classes, tastings, presentations, and competitions.

Chocolate’s ability to take different shapes and textures has even inspires the fashion industry. At the Salon du Chocolat models display dresses, hats, and shoes made of chocolate!

french chocolate shoe

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