Chocolate to Read By: Meg Lukens Noonan’s The Coat Route and JACEK’s Fabric collection single origin bars
It is a wonderful thing to assemble a beautiful thing from the ingredients available to you. It is another thing entirely to care so much about the object you’re making that you go out and try to understand where all those ingredients came from, and really think about what it means to be acquiring the “best” elements to include in your craft. While both can produce lovely outcomes, it has been my experience that exploring the latter leads you to more interesting people.
When Jacqueline Jacek, of JACEK Chocolate Couture, told me what she was planning to include in our August boxes, I immediately knew that I wanted to pair the three miniature bars from their “Fabric” collection with Meg Lukens Noonan’s The Coat Route. Obviously, I love chocolate, but I also love the stories behind the things I enjoy. And I remember reading about JACEK’s “Fabric” collection of chocolate when it first came out. The idea, as I recall it, was to think about chocolate like you think about fashion; the chocolate itself (absent any flavourings or additions, etc.) is as fundamental to truffles and chocolate bars as fabric is to the construction of clothing. So, in order to really understand chocolate, JACEK set out to make their own, from bean to bar.
I think this book reflects a lot of that philosophy – in each chapter, the author is tracking down the story of a single contributing element that goes into a very carefully considered coat. The cloth. The lining. The buttons. The tailor. She’s looking at how these elements come together, and how the ideas around the craftsmanship necessary to make such a coat have changed, and it’s fascinating, telling a collection of stories that combine to create a singular experience. I never would have guessed that I could find thirty pages written about buttons engrossing, but I got so lost in this book I read it twice, and loved it both times.
It’s a great book to read along with chocolate produced according to the same philosophy – that, whatever you use to make your product, it should be produced to an incredibly high standard, by people working in fair conditions doing something they’re passionate about. JACEK’s line of bean-to-bar chocolate exists because of that kind of focus on high quality inputs, so it’s a pretty natural fit. The last lines of the book say that better than I could, and I think it’s a sentiment that’s suits both phenomenal coats and excellent chocolate:
“I think we could all pay more attention to the materials with which our clothes are made. We could buy fewer things but of better quality. We could search out products made with care and designed to last. We could value the herders, the shearers, the spinners, the weavers, the carvers, and the tailors. We could find beauty in a button. We could be moved, as I was, by the work of many hands to make a single perfect thing.”
Plus, there is something to be said for knowing that, however much money I spend on chocolate, it’s a relatively inexpensive luxury compared to a $50,000 coat.