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Treat yourself: Chocolates and Bert Gordon

According to Gordon, the tag reads “House Chocolates €7.20 for 100 Grams.” This photo was taken at the Chocolate Shop Hotot in Caen, France, in May of 2009. (Photo courtesy of Bertram Gordon.)

Spend an afternoon sampling a variety of chocolates and enriching your personal knowledge of chocolate history.

La Vida, the Spanish and Spanish-American Studies club at Mills, is hosting a chocolate tasting and chocolate fondue event at the Bender Room on March 3. The proceeds will go toward the club attending San Francisco Ballet’s Don Quixote.

In addition to the tasting, Professor of History Bertram Gordon will be giving a lecture on the history of chocolate in the Americas and Spain. Gordon, whose interests include cuisine history and French history, teaches a class on gastronomy every three years at Mills. The class averages 80 students and covers the history of food from its discovery to the creation of restaurants. Gordon has also written numerous about chocolate since 2006, according to his CV on the Mills website.

La Vida’s advisor and visiting professor of Spanish and Spanish-American Studies Mena Borges taught a class on chocolate at St. Mary’s College of California during its January 2012 term. The class, “Chocolate Confections of a Chocoholic,” covered the history of chocolate and its relation to society. The class also covered chocolate confection and goods making.

Borges encourages the Mills community to attend La Vida’s chocolate event because it is educational, supports the idea of fair trade, and uses local and organic food.

“It’s about savoring, it’s not even tasting,” Borges said. “It’s like wine tasting, but with chocolate.”

The event will pay attention to food allergies and dietary restrictions, such as veganism, by using gluten-free and dairy-free food.

The tasting will have organic and fair trade chocolate, including brands such as Endangered Species and Dagoba. The use of fair trade chocolate is in line with the Mills community’s commitment to ethical consumerism, according to Borges.

At the chocolate tasting event, each attendee will get five chocolates to taste. There will be an option of two pieces of milk chocolate and three pieces of dark, or five pieces of dark. These options will accomodate food allergies and dietary restrictions.

Attendees will also learn how to host a chocolate tasting event.

Following the chocolate tasting event, there will be a fondue event. Belgian milk and dark chocolates will be used. Apples, bananas, strawberries, pineapples, marshmallows, gluten-free pretzels, and vegan, organic shortbread will be available for dipping.

“I think people should come because this encompasses a lot of things the Mills community enjoys,” club president Katherine Allen said. “There’s an education value because we’ll be learning about history. And of course, our focus on local foods and vegan foods and gluten free, [which] is also a very Mills thing. And finally, I mean, there’s gonna be chocolate. I think if you walk around this whole campus — unless someone’s allergic to chocolate, everyone’s gonna love chocolate.”