Foods make us feel. Don’t believe it? Take it from author Michael Pollan. In his book, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto, he writes about Americans’ and Europeans’ differing attitudes towards food. When shown the words “chocolate cake,” Americans’ top response was “guilt.” The French response? “Celebration.” If that’s not reason enough to embrace that truffle, well then, what is?
And, just in time for Valentine’s Day, French chocolatier Christophe Paume offers the perfect excuse to do some food-emotion research with his February 11 chocolate heart class.
Tucked into a kitchen on Meeting Street, Paume welcomes eight guests per session to indulge in the decadent art of pastry. “Each month has a different theme,” says Christophe’s wife and business partner, Carly. There’s bûche de Noël in December and pâte à choux in January, but February, in honor of that wily sprite Cupid, is all about heart. Each guest will learn how to paint chocolate into a mold, fill it with 11 smaller chocolate bites, and craft the delicious symbol of love. To sweeten the deal, Paume lays out a spread of appetizers—petite toasted sandwiches, meats, and small cakes—for pre-class noshing in addition to glasses of red and white wine.
But the real bargain is the one-on-one instruction from a veteran chocolatier. Paume, a brevet de maitrise (master in pastry), grew up in his father’s Toulouse pâtisserie and has worked in pastry shops in Paris and Montreal.
“I like for people to see what the job is all about and to share my knowledge with others. Many people don’t know how chocolate is really made, and I like to see them experience that,” says Paume. Whether you take the class solo or with someone you love, learning to appreciate chocolate is certainly something to celebrate—no guilt trip necessary.