Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chocolate heaven

It's only a 30 minute walk to heaven. 

Well a steep, uphill 30 minutes but who said the road to heaven is easy?

The heaven in question is the village next door. Bougy Villars has a population of 450, a narrow little center street not quite the 'Grand Rue' it is called. It is a hamlet that is barely on the map. It does  however have a stunning view of Lake Geneva. And it has this ...........

The shop at Christmas time
Depending on who you ask or what you read, the Tristan chocolate shop has been variously dubbed the best artisan chocolate in the region, in all of Switzerland and even in the whole world. Whatever superlative you want to use, there is no question that the Truffles, Plaques and endless other variations (chocolate with pepper for e.g. or green tea chocolate), all home made by Tristan and his family, often with help from other villagers are completely exquisite and exotic. And expensive. Though that hardly stops the locals or the expats from driving long distances to wait patiently in queue outside his tiny shop.

chocolates in Tristan's shop
Whether its special chocolate like Tristan or the store brought mass produced varieties, the Swiss do eat a lot of chocolate. As in a kilo a month or 11.9 kilos per person per year. That's a 120 bars of chocolate each year. That makes them the world's largest chocolate consumers (Yes, someone collects such statistics).

Well all the chocolate does not seem to make the Swiss fat but apparently it makes them a lot smarter. In a recent rather unusual article in the New England Journal of Medicine, the author, Franz Messerli, saw a close correlation between a country's per capita chocolate consumption and the number of Nobel prizes per 10 million people. (I cant link to the article as its not open access but if you are interested you can find it in NEJM 367; 16; Oct 18 2012 issue).

The Swiss have the most Nobel prizes relative to population size and also eat the most chocolate. Simple as that. There is even a biochemical explanation it would seem to explain the possible link: the flavinoids in chocolate (in dark chocolate in particular) improve the mental faculties. The author goes on to estimate that for every 400 gram increase in the per capita chocolate consumption in a country, there will likely be one more Nobel laureate in that country!

Hmm, that's something I can resolve to do for my country this new up its chocolate eating statistics (though I wonder ........would my chocolate eating boost India's Nobel Prize chances or Switzerland's?) . I do hope the Nobel committee is keeping its eye on this blog site ........

Tristan, here I come. Can heaven get better than this?


  1. the blog on Tristan is a nice chocolaty blend of fact and humor. The shop has truly a homely environment not only run by family members but also because of their friendly smiles which encourage you to sample their variety of chocolates.


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