The Secrets of Chocolate HC
Publisher: NBM
Release Date: June 23, 2021
Price: $19.99
Writer/Artist: Franckie Alarcon
Format: 112 pgs., 7.6"x10.1", Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-6811-2278-6
Age Rating: N/A
ICv2 Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Imagine spending a year studying how fine chocolate is prepared and used, in cooking and candy.  That was what Franckie Alarcon did, including taking a trip to South America with a famous chocolate artisan who builds relationships with growers in various places around the world.

Most of us who eat chocolate, or even use it for simple cooking, know little about how it’s grown, how it’s turned into what we consume, or how much effort goes into every stage of the various processes.  Reading this book leaves one not only hungry for chocolate, but to taste some of the varieties mentioned in the book, in order to improve one’s palate for future enjoyment.

One of the best parts of the book was that the artist was allowed to actually work with one of the chefs for several days, interning to learn some of the simple parts of the processes of making candies and pastries from the chocolate.  Readers may have to take their chocolate more seriously after reading this book.

The artwork is a bit cartoony, which is Alarcon’s style, and that may distract some readers.  The story itself, though, is quite serious, ranging from the purely practical to the mentions of some of the geo-political issues that affect cultivation of cacao.  Overall, this is an excellent work, and might be a good gift for someone who enjoys creating food, but already has all of the cookbooks they might think they need.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.