BY FATIMA NANAVATI
BOLOGNA, Italy – Italy has long been praised for being a culinary epicenter of Europe and the city of Bologna continues to uphold its delicious reputation. From Nov. 11 through 15, Bologna hosted the 11th edition of the famous CioccoShow fair. The fair first made an appearance this year at the Milan Expo in hopes of publicizing the event and gaining a more international audience. Master chocolatiers from all over Italy later travelled to Bologna to compete in a showcase of their cacao confectionaries.
The CioccoShow is a unique annual event specifically reserved for culinary craftsman who must diligently apply to exhibit their work and sell freely to the public. The fair hosted 95 different chocolate exhibits, reaching more than 330,000 visitors in the span of five days. Vending stalls, mini-cafés, and workshops were set up throughout Bologna, with the main exhibition concentrating in the city square, Piazza Maggiore. The fair provided guided tours throughout the city and the historic center to showcase Bologna’s beauty, accompanied by chocolate tastings along the way.
The fair was more than just a collection of delicious chocolates, but rather a display of culinary art and creativity. SAIS students, on their way to a weekend trip in Croatia, picked a few dozen truffles for their long road trip. The various flavors in their bag of delicacies ranged from classic dark chocolate and Nutella to olive oil crème and kiwi. “Be Well di Marco Segoloni” was selling more than 100 different liquor-flavored chocolate bars, while “Cioccolato Colle di Colle Loretta” specialized in liquor-filled chocolate treats – not the usual rum cream chocolate you regrettably pick out of grandma’s mysterious box of treats, but literally a chocolate egg filled with a shot of rum. However, the most interesting, creative, and eye-catching exhibit had to be by “Vecchia Brianza.” These master chocolatiers magically crafted wrenches, knives, shoes, cell phones, cutlery, and even a DSLR camera out of chocolate.
Along with the stalls of chocolate crêpes, chocolate waffles, chocolate lollipops, and chocolate shoes, the fair also held a series of workshops about… chocolate. At the Chocolate Lab, children learned everything they needed to know about the heavenly treat and were even given the chance to make small cakes. On Saturday night, when the fair ran until midnight, the Nero CioccoShow invited visiting connoisseurs to test their senses in a dark room with the help of a blind guide. Around the corner in Piazza Galvani, Andrea and Lorenzo Marin taught a series of classes, for both adults and children, at the School of Chocolate for the duration of the fair. For those who would preferred to enjoy their confectionary treats in the company of a good book, the Literary Café hosted 18 events including book talks and poetry performances.
The CioccoShow will return to Bologna next November with even more creative, delicious, and calorie-filled exhibits. With plans to exhibit over 100 stalls, to host a competition to “win your weight in chocolate,” and a line-up of special guests, the fair is sure to be a hit.