Chocolate. Need I say more?

When chocolate was discovered in Mexico, the ancient Aztecs allowed only two classes of people to consume it: the wealthy upper classes and those designated for human sacrifice, as sort of a last meal. This was among the interesting information from a chocolate fanatic who also has the academic chops – Dr. Gabriel “Keith” Harris of the N.C. State University Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences. You gotta love a man who loves chocolate, a love he confessed to at a Sunday meeting of Culinary Historians of North Carolina.

In his talk, he said he has a big cup of Mexican chocolate (Mayordomo brand, to be exact) every morning. He also has no great affection for white chocolate, although he didn’t go so far as to call it an abomination, as I do.

The highlight of the afternoon was, of course, eating chocolate. We sampled chocolates from Azurelise Chocolates, a Raleigh company started by a former philosophy professor at NCSU, Dr. Reginald O. Savage. Savage, (photo below) who had no food training when he started the company, named it after his daughter. He said he thinks about creative fillings for his dark and milk chocolates, imagining what might go together and then just trying it. The most interesting sample I tasted was the kind he calls Genius Chocolates. No one could guess the filling flavor – it was Guinness Stout. It somehow made the chocolate taste more chocolately. The same thing happened for me once when I made a cake that had the beer in the batter and frosting. You don’t really taste it, but it does something to the flavors.

Savage sells his chocolates primarily through A Southern Season in Chapel Hill, although he also does mail order.

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