Saturday, February 08, 2003
at long last!
after months of absence, and weekly begging, i'm happy again!
my local garden of eden has re-stocked the fabulous bernard castelain 70% macaibo bars. this stuff is some of the greatest chocolate around.
hooray! i wanted to buy 3, but that's just too greedy. so here i am, contemplating my little red-wrapped bar with glee. . .i think, dear readers, you can buy it from our pal clay gordon at chocophile or from erika's. . .
Friday, February 07, 2003
variety being the spice of life, over the next few days, i've invited some friends to post a bit.
they have different points of view than i do; some of them are quite challenging to the bccy "way of thought," if such a thing exists.
so far i've invited a coffee roaster, a chocolatier, and some yoga teachers. i think they will all accept and i hope they actually do post.
it should make for a lively mix and some debate!
i did invite a coffee trader, but he hasn't responded, which is probably a no. so look for the controversy to start in the next few days. . .
in the meantime, valentine's day is coming up fast. this is the prime chocolate-giving day!
prepare yourself by assembling the materials now for home-made truffles. nothing is more romantic than fresh truffles you made yourself just for your sweetie. . .and they're so easy to do!
Thursday, February 06, 2003
more on the coffee crisis
just want to note 2 great articles on the human face of the coffee crisis. and unlike many articles, this one nails all the facts head on. just a wonderful article. the single most relevant fact we coffee drinkers should remember?
"on average, those who produce coffee receive less than 1 percent of what a [north american] consumer pays for a cup of coffee in a restaurant or coffee shop, and roughly 6 percent of the retail price of coffee purchased in a grocery store." i'll do the math for you. that US$3.50 latte in starbucks generates only US$0.03 (3 pennies, 3 cents!) to the native coffee farmers. that 39 oz. can of folgers you buy at the supermarket generates just US$0.66 for the farmer -- yet you paid something like US$11 for it!
(and by the way, please remember that after earlier small price cuts, last year p&g raised that price by US$0.45, on top of an earlier announced US$0.15. do you think any of that went to the coffee farmer? not on your life!)
read this great piece now. in sum, you now know why i'm such an advocate for buying fresh, high-quality coffee from your local independent roaster; why despite its many flaws i've slowly come to support fair trade; and why i so strongly support that great charity coffeekids.
also, i've written about jhai coffee before. from the same source, a nice article on developments with that project. . .
Wednesday, February 05, 2003
read it in the bathtub
it's about time that we here at bccy admit our fashion-magazine roots and publish the results of a personality survey.
guy readers of bccy may or may not know that the fake-o personality survey is a time-honored staple of those air-brushed, photoshop-ed, you-don't-hate-yourself-enough-yet mags, which are made only for reading in the bathtub.
i actually subscribe to one or two of these in fits and starts, probably because there's not really a good monthy consumer publication on coffee. (and i mean you, fresh cup and tea & coffee!) that the specialty coffee industry could actually try to communicate with the consumer is a time-honored rant of mine.
i used to read the now-defunct, real-size magazine mode regularly, even tho' i'm not actually real-sized. (ignore what the "fitness experts" say -- do the yoga that calls to you 4 or 5 days a week without fail and you will see the difference!) i also sometimes pick up grace at the news stand, mostly because i want to support the message the mag presents.
i used to like w, when it still had creative photography, which was its only point of interest. cosmo, elle, vogue, all those just seem so irrelevant nowadays. . .
anna wintour is probably the most matronly woman on several continents, in my view, no matter what she wears; her attitude, everything she stands for, is just, well, demode. . .but then she's such an easy target. now where was i?
oh yes, the dorky personality survey, from dunkin donuts, asks you -- what's your coffee type? are you a social bean? a classic drinker? an auto-perk? or do you stick to the daily grind? doesn't this remind you of a marketing-addled version of the chinese astrology we did just the other day?
fortunately, i fall into none of these categories. the survey is however interesting in that it reveals how clueless large coffee companies are to the real future of coffee-drinking: the quality-coffee revolution that's happening under their noses. . .a rebellion we here intend to foment as actively as possible!
Tuesday, February 04, 2003
health & healing
you often hear from yoga teachers that yoga and meditation can be healing. well, apparently, it's quite true.
drs. richard davidson of the university of wisconsin's neuroscience lab and jon kabat-zinn of the mass. medical university in worcester are close to publishing a study showing that those who use buddhist mindfulness meditation (vipassana) techniques while in yoga poses and in seated meditation really do boost the number of antibodies in their immune systems.
according to the report in the new york times, (log your bad self in) ". . . . mindfulness [meditation] seemed to improve the robustness of their immune systems, as gauged by the amount of flu antibodies in their blood after receiving a flu shot. . .the mindfulness training focuses on learning to monitor the continuing sensations and thoughts more closely, both in sitting meditation and in activities like yoga exercises." (emphasis added.)
davidson noted that other studies had suggested that those practicing meditation also had milder symptoms after they had already caught the flu, and were sick for less time.
the first time i ever heard a yoga teacher discuss the healing aspects of yoga, i have to say i was skeptical. and so i asked the teacher, sebastian white, how this could possibly be.
at that time he told me that concentrating on proper breathing in yoga sent helpful brain signals to the glands that helped control the parasympathetic nervous system, which in turn helps control the immune system.
i must say i greeted this explanation with a raised eyebrow. but the study above makes it seem that he was actually 100% correct. . .
Monday, February 03, 2003
chinese new year
today is the first day of the chinese black ram year in the u.s.a., according to one of my favorite fun sites, and also marks the start of spring. sadly, this day has no traditional connection to chocolate. this must be changed!
i suggest you avid chocoholics use the comment link below to offer new ways we can incorporate chocolate into chinese new year celebrations. . .(the actual new year holiday was last saturday, which for obvious heart-rending reasons, was not a day to celebrate here. so i am picking up the idea today.)
traditionally, you should eat long noodles for good luck and long life. perhaps we could make add cocoa to noodle dough to create chocolate noodles? or cut long strips out of chocolate spread thin on wax paper to create chocolate "tagliatelle?"
let your imagination run wild. the new year is also a time for gift-giving, so i suppose we could give each other gifts of chocolate -- especially if it's wrapped in red foil, red being a lucky and prosperous color. perhaps red foil-wrapped chocolate coins would an excellent present in the spirit of the chinese new year.
this year should be a little more peaceful than last year, since the ruling elements this year are less contentious than those that governed previously. you may also be interested to know that in general the south-east and east are unlucky directions this year. so store your chocolate elsewhere for best keeping!
personally, i am apparently a yen water tiger, born on a water snake day, with a lucky element of metal. thus my luck this year will flow anytime water or metal governs a month. how about you?
Sunday, February 02, 2003
that dull refrain
long-time readers are probably tired by now of reading once again how great dark chocolate is for you. i can't help it -- medical science keeps pumping out the studies!
not only does dark chocolate contain heart-healthy flavonoids and anti-oxidants, it's also high in good monosaturated fat, just like olive oil.
this fun article contains the pertinent health facts, plus tasting hints, and a cute little recipe for chocolate-dipped strawberries at the end. with valentine's day coming up, you might consider dipping a dozen for your sweetie!