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on 12 February 2010
At 260 pages long this book seems much longer as it is so crammed with detail. Based on research for a doctoral thesis and centred around chocolatiers in an area of South West France as well as Paris, Terrio had amazing access to the lives and businesses of French chocolatiers. She examines the way in which French chocolatiers have tried to craft a history and tradition for themselves that distinguises their business from other food businesses and from chocolatiers in other countries. That this history is substantially built on myth is fascinating to discover. Terrio also examines, exhaustively, the educational backgrounds of those in the profession and their struggle for respectability in a society that values academic qualifications over practical ones. Further, she looks at the social make up of the profession itself; the sharp divide between social classes in the chocolate business, in particular owners versus employees and new versus old (family) businesses. Additionally, Terrio sheds light on the cultural aspects of teh business that define that men should be the creators of chocolate and women the sellers. If anything the book is too long - the author dissects her subject from every angle and has a tendency to pad out her views. On the lighter side Terrio should win a prize for the most times the word "elide" has ever been mentioned in a book! In summary, quite a dense book, a bit overwritten, but still very readable and absolutely fascinating for anyone interested in chocolate and who really wants to gain a profound insight into the hearts and minds of the creators and purveyors of it in France.
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