Thursday, February 03, 2005

Chocolate without guilt?

Nigella Lawson argues "In Defense of Poor, Maligned Chocolate":
We all know the allure of forbidden fruit, but chocolate seems to suffer from its naughty-but-nice image. The cocoa bean is both lusted after and demonized, so much so that eating anything made from it is often deemed a deviant pleasure: sweet, rich, fattening, sinful.

I argue for the solemn dignity of the cocoa bean...Arguments in favor of the health attributes of a foodstuff we generally think we should avoid can sound suspicious, but certain facts are undeniable: bittersweet chocolate with a minimum of 70 percent cocoa solids is rich in phosphorous, potassium, magnesium, iron and antioxidants that can protect against cancer and heart disease. On top of that, chocolate also contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that induces a sense of well being and happiness.

But I think the best argument for the chocolate mousse and cake here is that you cannot truly say you live well unless you eat well. (NYT)
Does chocolate still seem like a guilty pleasure? Try Slate's approach: assess the finest chocolates, and publish the results. Replace guilt with altruism and scientific inquiry (sort of). Readers are invited to replicate their results:
"If you are reading this, it means—Oh dreaded day!—that I have finished this piece. When again will my work consist solely of buying and eating high-end chocolates?" asks Ms. YiLing Chen-Josephson. "When again will I be the life of every party, dispensing pricey bonbons in exchange only for a rating and some commentary? Let us hurry on to the methodology section before I become too despondent...

"In total, I tested 11 boxes of chocolates, from those brands that have outposts at malls around the country, such as Godiva and Lindt, to those with only hometown stores, such as Gearharts and Jacques Torres."
She asked 19 blinded "testers" to assign points to the various specimens, based on taste, aesthetics, and "navigation" (i.e., layout and descriptive features of the chocolate box).

Will JournalClub analyze her methodology and results...and does he need any testers?

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