We were tagged by the lovely Kelly Wilson of wilsonwrites.com for a blog hop featuring two of our most favorite things: books and chocolate. The Sweatpants & Coffee team came up with a bevy of beloved books, and the unique chocolates that go perfectly with them. We have planned your weekend for you!
My copy looks like it’s been snuggled like a stuffed animal for over fifteen years, because it has. On some of my darkest nights of the soul, when I’m exhausted by tears and heartache, when I need to renew, I’ve taken this book to bed with me and it’s helped, every time. It is a collection of explicated myths and stories—fairy tales like you’ve never heard them but always knew how they really were. It’s also story delivered as medicine, with wondrous insights, questions, and revelations for any woman who wants to know, heal, and reclaim her wild self. Dr. E, as she calls herself on Facebook, is a scholar, poet, cantadora, Jungian psychoanalyst, and one of my heroines. In the first chapter of WWRWTW, Dr. E writes of how women often try to escape the psychic desert as fast as they can. She urges,
Don’t be a fool. Go back and stand under that one red flower and walk straight ahead for the last hard mile. Go up and knock on the old weathered door. Climb up to the cave. Crawl through the window of a dream. Sift the desert and see what you find. It is the only work we have to do.
You wish psychoanalytic advice?
Go gather bones.
It’s a sacred text in my library, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.
What chocolate goes with WWRWTW? Women Who Run with the Wolves is a book to savor. One paragraph can feed me for a week. It’s rich, not something you’d down in one shot, but rather something to be sipped, so you can appreciate all of the layers. It’s also about waking up to the wild woman within. So I think the perfect accompaniment is spicy drinking chocolate. My recommendation for your time with this book? Melt some squares of dark chocolate and mix with a can of coconut milk (all the fat, please—you’ll need it), some fresh grated ginger, cinnamon, chipotle chili powder, and a dash of salt. Whatever you don’t drink, put in the fridge—it’ll turn into a magnificent chocolate pudding for tomorrow’s reading time.
Barbara Sirois Doyle
Book Choice: Fat Kid Rules the World, by KL Going
Fat Kid Rules the World is the story of Troy, a suicidal 296-pound teenager who thinks everyone is laughing at him, and Curt, the local guitar legend/drug addict/perhaps not-altogether-sane guy Troy accidentally befriends. Curt, to Troy’s disbelief, asks Troy to be the drummer in the new punk band he is forming. Only problem? Troy can’t play drums. As they prepare for their first gig, Curt teaches Troy what it means to be a confident punk, and Troy teaches Curt what it means to have a loyal friend.
What I love about it
I love this touching, sometimes hilarious story of two societal rejects who find each other (and themselves in the process) but I know this book won’t appeal to everyone. Troy is extremely, descriptively hard on himself, and pulls no punches. Curt is confusing and spastic and you half worry about him, half find him completely irritating. The humor here is dark, and the ending is a bit abrupt. That said? I am so glad I read it. It realistically portrays how it feels to be the kid who doesn’t fit in without being preachy, and it reminds you of the value of odd couples and how they just might change society. I raced through it, and was sad when it was over. It ended just when it needed to, but I wish I could spend more time with Troy and Curt.
It seems obvious, yeah? Like I chose the confectionary representation of Troy? But, just like this book, the truth of it is way deeper. The Chunky is odd—weird to experience, out of place next to its counterparts, hard to get your teeth into, likely not your first choice when you think of something tasty. But it’s also good and sweet and satisfying and textural and much more interesting than your run of the mill candy bar. This book is the same. I’m happy to have enjoyed both.
Book Choice: Red Dragon by Thomas Harris
I have always been a fan of the macabre and true crime. I met Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter a LONG time ago when Silence of the Lambs was first published. This summer, I was reintroduced to the character when I binge-watched the series. Watching Hannibal cook and present his dishes of human meat was both fascinating and disturbing.
At any rate, I realized that I had seen the original version of Red Dragon, but not yet read the book. It’s summer, I have loads of time, and so I began to read. If you enjoy the television series, it’s definitely an interesting read. Many of the formative elements are carried over from Red Dragon, though liberties are taken with the characters.
I would offer a chocolate pairing for Will Graham, but the cognitive dissonance between Graham in the series and Graham in the book was too distracting. So I decided that I needed to find something with chocolate that Hannibal would appreciate. I love the internet. I didn’t Google cannibal main dishes, because I don’t want the men in white coats coming to get me courtesy of the NSA, but this will do nicely. Wild Venison in Blueberry and Chocolate sauce. You can find the recipe here.
Personally, I don’t eat offal, or sweetbreads, and the combination of chocolate fruit makes me cringe, so I doubt I’ll be trying this recipe. I could definitely see Hannibal cheerfully serving this with a fine red wine, a gift of love to his latest nemesis/friend.
Book Choice: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
I’m sure you have all seen the movies, and perhaps have not taken the time to read the book—why when the film adaptations are so gloriously wicked and still the heroes triumph in the end? And it’s not that the films are that far off from the text—unless you pin your hopes on the Disney version—but if you ever decide to spend a few days taking in the textual version of this delicious adventure tale, you’ll find much more.
While no one would ever say that this novel is a feminist novel, there is one character who defied convention and made a name for herself during a time when women were basically considered chattel of their husbands. My love for this book is pinned solely on the fleur-de-lis tattoo branded on Milady de Winter’s alabaster shoulder.
Yes, Milady de Winter is the villainess and femme fatale of the novel, but Dumas based her character on three women—all widows who left with their husband’s fortunes, were able to make names for themselves and who ruled French society during his time. In the footnotes of my weathered and dogeared text, I found that the women realized that if they stayed widows they could be their own women during a time that tended to look down on the female species. Dumas used the personality of these three women for the creation of Milady. And while he twisted her and made her more evil than good—the character is one most of us understand.
Milady falls in love as a young girl to a very bad man, is led astray, and branded a felon (literally—with the fleur-de-lis). She hides her past (like many of us do) and marries Athos, who loves her—until he sees the fleur-de-lis and realizes she is not who she says. She explains her past, he denies her, and runs off to join the Musketeers. She leaves Athos’s home with nothing and has to start again. The third time she marries the Baron de Winter and after his death, becomes a widow and for the most part—a woman of her own means and mind.
Okay, so she kills the Baron to achieve this and becomes a spy for the evil Cardinal Richelieu who is the antagonist of the novel, but still—she realizes that she doesn’t need a man to survive. And she does. She survives and while her choices don’t bring her to a happy ending—I know I learned lessons from her demise that gave me a bit of backbone when I needed it.
How could you eat anything else beside French Chocolate Macarons. Go all out and either make them yourself—or take off to Paris and go on a chocolate walking tour. You can sneak peeks at your book when you stop to taste a chocolatey treat.
Jordan E. Rosenfeld
I’m a sucker for a book with language so beautiful it makes the writer in me stop and sigh. The Enchanted, by Rene Denfeld, is just such a book—a gorgeous novel about a very dark subject: prison, and the inner lives of the people who find their way there, both on the inside, and those who work there. I literally clutched the book to my breast like some Victorian woman in a swoon more than several times, just to let the flow and sway of her words echo through me. And at other times I had to push it away for a little respite in which I took deep breaths and reminded myself that even on my worst days, hey, at least I’m not in prison. What makes the book so good is the generous feeling of hope and compassion in its pages.
Despite its title, The Enchanted is not a fantasy, and it’s not a light book either. But I like my books like I like my chocolate: dark, gritty, and with something surprising at the center. Which is why the chocolate that you’ll need to have on hand for this book is Salted Caramel Chocolate.
I’m going to be honest here: though it’s not gourmet by any stretch, you need look no further than Trader Joes for my Dark Chocolate Bar with Black Sea Salt. Sure, you can get a fancier version of this: Godiva, even Ghirardelli, but who has time for that? You’ll be pressed against the couch, so ensconced in your book that you won’t care what brand of caramel trails down your chin, or which one is responsible for the dark chocolate smears in the pages of your book.
Book Choice: Flowers In The Attic by V.C. Andrews
Fun fact: There are two different types of V.C. Andrews books. The first were written in the author’s inimitable style and follow a certain twisted, dark, Gothic “children-in-jeopardy” pattern. The second are those penned by a ghost writer since the author’s death in 1986, and they are, for the most part… crapola.
Don’t get me started.
But Flowers In The Attic is not only the real deal, it’s the book that turned the author into a household name, especially among folks like me who were teenagers when this potboiler hit the stands in 1979.
For those who’ve somehow managed to remain unaware in the decades since, this is the story of four children locked away in a mansion’s attic by a greedy mother desperate to inherit her father’s estate. It is told from the point of teenager Cathy, who has no self-esteem issues whatsoever, thank you very much, but whose beauty winds up catching the eye of the only other boy in her vicinity… brother Christopher!
While the novel is readily available from Amazon or, thanks to a re-issue in wake of Lifetime’s recent movie version, do yourself a favor and hit a used book store or E-bay. Try and find one of the no-longer-in-print versions with the creepy keyhole cover, pictured here with what you’ll find on the other side of the cut-out!
Pick yourself up some Ghirardelli Intense Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Soiree squares. Intense and dark, because that’s what this book is, infused with almonds because this family is nuts, and sprinkled with sea salt because… well, let’s just say that the end of this book involves tasty treats sprinkled with a little something extra!
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about Charlie, an unpopular 15 year old boy who learns to cope with his loneliness by writing letters to someone he only refers to as “Friend.” Through these letters we learn about Charlie’s past losses – his only friend Michael, his brother and his aunt which leave him depressed and anxious. Things finally turn around for him when he befriends step-siblings Sam and Patrick, as they bring him into their tribe and introduce him to their free-spirited sometimes, wild lives of love, sex, drugs, music and literature. The feelings of freedom and acceptance Charlie gains within his friends ultimately leads him to “feeling infinite.”
I chose a s’more to go with this book. S’mores represent youth, a carefree happiness and the innocence of growing up. Charlie is the graham cracker, to many he may seem boring but once you get to know him you understand his sweetness and depth of flavor. He may be easily cracked, but he is also the walls of the snack holding the pieces in place. Sam is the marshmallow, deliciously sweet and stuck to Patrick, the glue that holds the trio of friends together. Patrick is the chocolate, he’s deep and rich and while slightly fragile, he manages to hang on not matter how hot it gets. Separately each of them are something good, but when they come together they form something deliciously amazing.
What book could possibly go better with chocolate than one with ‘chocolate’ right in the title! Part fairy tale and part cookbook; Like Water for Chocolate tells the story of Tita, a young girl cursed. As the youngest daughter, she is forbidden to marry and must look after her cruel mother, Mama Elena, for the rest of her life. When she falls in love with Pedro, Mama Elena is furious and won’t allow the two to be together. Pedro marries Tita’s ugly and miserable sister, Rosaura, just to be near her. With the help of her beloved friend and cook Nacha, Tita learns that the only way she can show her love for Pedro is by infusing the meals she prepares for him with her passion.
Mexican mocha. To say that one is “like water for chocolate” is to say that one is boiling, such as water must be to make hot chocolate. It can mean to be boiling mad, or boiling with desire, such as in the novel. To make, add a shot (or two!) of espresso to a large mug of hot chocolate, and season to taste with healthy shakes of cinnamon, allspice or sucanat, and chili powder.