The last time I posted about my favorite health food -- chocolate -- a reader suggested I try Taza chocolate, a small brand based in Somerville, Mass.
With so many kinds of chocolate to taste and so little time, I didn’t get a chance to sample Taza until this past holiday season, when an 80 percent cocoa bar turned up in my Christmas stocking (thanks, Santa!).
Taza is an organically grown, fair-trade chocolate sourced from the Dominican Republic. What really sets it apart from other brands is the technique the manufacturer uses to produce the bar. Instead of using steel equipment to crush the cacao beans, Taza uses authentic Mexican stone mills, so the ground-up paste is grainy, rather than smooth.
As a result, the Taza chocolate bar tastes like nothing else I've ever tried. I imagine it’s the closest thing to eating raw cacao beans: intense, sharp, and slightly gritty, barely civilized with a bit of organic cane sugar and vanilla. Taza doesn’t dissolve blandly in your mouth -- it demands your full attention, which is a good thing.
And now, let’s talk about chocolate and guilt for a moment. Do you still associate eating chocolate with diet-breaking? Please stop it this minute.
First of all, as you already know, it’s useless to put any food in a box and surround it with an imaginary fence. That just increases your temptation to break in.
Secondly, I wasn’t kidding, chocolate is truly healthy. Like red wine, chocolate contains antioxidants that support your cardiovascular system and suppress inflammation. As with wine, a little is good, while a lot is not. No one is saying that drinking a whole bottle of wine or eating a half-pound of chocolate in one sitting is good for your health. Moderation is key.
If you think moderation is impossible when it comes to chocolate, you may be pleasantly surprised. For many people, the better quality the chocolate, the less of it they need to feel satisfied. It’s not hard to polish off a bag of M&Ms, but a couple of squares of the good stuff, eaten slowly and savored, goes a long way.
Taza definitely qualifies as the good stuff. Give it a try.