Chocolate Expo : a Cultural Discovery

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Often when riding the metro I see advertisements for various events happening in Toulouse: a play, a sports game, or an exposition. However, I had never paid much attention to them until recently. Last week, a friend brought to my attention an advertisement for a Salon du Chocolat. I was instantly intrigued. As often is the case, we were able to purchase discounted student tickets to the exposition. It was only a short walk away and I was bouncing with excitement. The Salon was held at the Parc des Expositions, a giant venue in Toulouse made for such events. This particular exposition had already been to Paris, Lyon, and Marseille.

Upon entry, I was slightly overwhelmed. Stands filled the giant space bursting with all different types and forms of chocolate. There were truffles, macaroons, fruit, fondue, fudge, jellies, hot chocolate, and waffles just to name a few. We began to weave our way through the crowd, tasting samples and taking in all of the aromas. We ate savory waffles for lunch, washed down with the richest hot chocolate. After awhile we watched some of the performances also happening. We were even lucky enough to see a bit of a pastry show.

In the show, a young man demonstrated how to make a piece of chocolate that looked remarkably like a piece of bark. Until then, I had not realized what patience and skill it requires to work with a material as diverse as chocolate.

The pamphlet we received had both a map and biographies of all the different artisans and performers being showcased. It was inspiring to read all about these people who had made chocolate their life’s work. Their passion was evident in their products. At one stand, there was a naked woman being painted in chocolate. It was so beautiful and it made me so curious as to how someone got in to that line of work.

It was so amazing to see all of these artisans gathered to sell their unique product, and even more so it was fun being with all of the Toulousians. There is nowhere else I can imagine having a festival quite like this except France. I really felt part of the community and I look forward to finding out what this lively city will offer next!

– Jenna Lamb

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