L’Atelier du Chocolat

L’Atelier du Chocolat

I may not be too present for the next ten days or so, because it’s an intense time of year, so I felt a moral obligation to leave you with something you can linger over.

I was, of course, incited by such posts as Laume’s where she claims I am forevermore inseparably associated with chocolate in her mind.

I like this kind of mind. In fact, if any of the rest of you should see me associating with chocolate, I encourage you, for all our sakes, to remember that adverb “inseparably” and STICK WITH IT. NO ATTEMPTS AT SEPARATING ALLOWED.

In fact, it reminds me of when a complete stranger walked up to me among a collection of writers gathered at a Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ signing and said, “Laura? Are you–Laura of the Truffles?”

THAT is the kind of thing that makes my day. In fact, when my agent and I were discussing whether or not I should write some of my books under a different name, I said, very excited: “Can that name be LAURA OF THE TRUFFLES?!!”

And she said, “Umm…maybe we’ll just stick with your real name.”

But personally, I think “Laura of the Truffles” would be good for sales.

And it would only serve to enhance my excuses to talk about such places as THIS:

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L’Atelier du Chocolat is a lot of fun, something some of the highest end chocolate shops in Paris sometimes stop being. The chocolate is delicious and the premise would make anyone happy:

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You browse among these bins, full of great rippling slabs of chocolate of different flavors and strengths.

If you are very unlucky, you ask your husband to take some pictures while you juggle the baby, and end up with this:

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WHITE CHOCOLATE!!! The very phrase makes me so mad.

In fact, if you ever imagined Rumplestiltskin jumping up and down in berserker frustration, you can just substitute VERONICA LAKE

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or LAUREN BACALL

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for the actual Rumplestiltskin in that image, and you will have a good idea of me reacting to white chocolate.

Seriously. It’s like you’re a kid, all excited for Christmas, and the adults wake you up early and say, “Santa came! Go see!” and you run all happy to the living room and–

There’s no tree! There are no presents! It’s not even Christmas, it’s just somebody’s idea of a bad joke. That’s white chocolate for you.

But Sébastien thought it was aesthetically pleasing, being an artist and not realizing that aesthetics start with taste not vision, and so that’s our only close-up.

Well, and this.

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But anyway. What you do is, you browse among those slabs (but NOT the white chocolate bin, which you ignore) and choose what you want, and the person working there breaks beautifully uneven hunks off and makes you–

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A chocolate bouquet!

I love it.

And then she says: “Do you want any special color raffia with that? Is it a gift for your mother? ” (It being French Mother’s Day.)

And you say–

“Um. Yes.”

Which is a BIG FAT LIE. It wasn’t for my mother. My mother doesn’t like chocolate; I think she was abducted by aliens when she was little.

It was for my baby girl’s mother. I know she would have gotten it for me if she had a bigger allowance, but she still swallows money, so I had to take care of the present buying for her.

I bought something for Sébastien’s mother, too, though, never fear!

And you know what?

She hid it from me as soon as we gave it to her!! What’s up with that?

And here I thought we were getting along so well.

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11 Comments
  • Sounds like an upscale old-fashioned candy store (there’s one in my hometown of Holland, where they scoop up all the candies for you and place them in a little white bag. No bouquet, and only ho-hum chocolate, but the service is great!). Love the chocolate bouquets! What are all those delicious flavors? I think Laura of Truffles is a fine pen name (and I discovered Susan Elizabeth Phillips this summer–made for a happy, happy summer). Good luck with the back-to-school busy-ness.

    August 17, 2007 at 8:24 am
  • L’Aure Du Truffe Chcolat!
    I browsed those bins too..
    and I ran out as quickly as possible
    before they sent me
    Back to Rehab

    August 17, 2007 at 8:46 am
  • I find white chocolate to be a bad joke, too. Hmph. It’s not chocolate at all. What is it, exactly? Just the fat? With no cocoa? Something like that. They shouldn’t even be allowed to call it chocolate if it has no cocoa in it.

    August 17, 2007 at 9:20 am
  • Because white chocolate doesn’t contain chocolate liquor or cocoa solids, it doesn’t even meet the standards of many countries to even be sold! I’m stunned that it’s sold in France, where food is held in very high regard and taken quite seriously.

    Speaking of ersatz chocolate, right now, there are battles in the US over proposed changes at the FDA that would allow more vegetable oils to be substituted for cocoa solids and still retain the name chocolate. It’s of course a way to make it cheaper. It’s also a way to degrade quality and taste. An AP story says of the battle, “At stake is the very definition of chocolate, and whether cheaper vegetable oils can be substituted for what many consider the very quintessence of every block, bar and square of chocolate: cocoa butter.”

    August 17, 2007 at 10:01 am
  • What’s up with that? Ken LOVES white chocolate. Prefers it to all others actually. I just don’t understand it. It isn’t real chocolate to me. Although I m converting him . . . slowly. He said I’m turning him into a chocolate snob, because dark chocolate is now growing on him. Yes, Laura of the Truffles and the Chocolate Snobs. Sounds like a cool band name to me.

    August 17, 2007 at 1:04 pm
  • Maybe you can snow her by switching languages: Laura de la Truffe. I think it sounds very writerly.

    White “chocolate” is NOT CHOCOLATE! They can’t call it chocolate, they should call it white… icky stuff. Or something. Okay, see, this is why you are a writer and I am not. Also, look at Lauren up there. I bet somebody offered her white chocolate just before shooting that picture, just to get the perfect glance of withering scorn.

    August 17, 2007 at 3:11 pm
  • This is why I come back to read other people’s comments. Y’all make me laugh. Although TerryB’s information made me shudder. Note to self: Read labels even MORE carefully.

    August 17, 2007 at 3:48 pm
  • Terry B’s comment reminds me of a petition I stumbled upon a few months ago about this very issue of chocolate standards. Here’s a link to Guittard’s aptly named site that has info on the proposal as well as their statement of oppositon, AND a link to post a comment with the FDA:

    http://dontmesswithourchocolate.guittard.com/

    It’s a sad and scary world when chocolate is no longer inviolate:(

    August 18, 2007 at 10:11 am
  • Ooohhh, bouquets of gourmet chocolate! L’Atelier du Chocolat sounds like the perfect “grownup” candy shop! What a delightful place to discover…I think I could spend hours in there, rummaging through all of those chocolate bins!

    August 18, 2007 at 2:01 pm
  • Well I was in Waldenbooks today and saw two copies of “Blame it on Paris” there, one in general fiction and one in local fiction. I managed to turn the local fiction one out so people can see the lovely cover of skinny Laura and handsome Sebastien as he serves her a cup of coffee. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Laura, I think she’s prettier than the cover model. 😉

    August 22, 2007 at 12:31 pm
  • Oh Laura…

    White chocolate makes me hopping mad! It doesn’t taste like chocolate, it doesn’t look like chocolate, it doesn’t smell like chocolate. I truly believe that it is a travesty to have this thing masquerading under the name of “chocolate”. My father loves it and it is the only chocolate my mother will actually eat. She too hates even the smell of chocolate.

    I do wonder sometimes whether they are my real parents.

    August 26, 2007 at 9:49 pm

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