On the Chocolate Trail

Of Chocolate Exhibits There is No End: Part 2

Just as the Detroit Institute of Arts closes its wonderful Bitter|Sweet display of chocolate, coffee and tea, no need to despair. New York offers three additional exhibits. Setting aside the wondrous and elegant chocolate shops, at least three local museums currently exhibit artifacts related to the history and consumption of chocolate. For now, the new Jacques Torres Chocolate Museum will have to wait. However, we did manage to visit two this past weekend: “A Taste for Chocolate” at the Morris-Jumel Mansion and chocolate sculptures produced by cocoa workers in the Congo called “Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolaise” at the SculptureCenter in Long Island City. The sculptures will be post (3) and Jacques Torres’ Chocolate Museum, post (4) in this series. Clearly there is no end.

Not only does Morris-Jumel Mansion run an annual day long chocolate festival, which certainly deserves a visit, it is also the oldest existing house in Manhattan, located in Harlem’s Sugar Hill. British born Colonel Roger Morris and his American wife, Mary Philipse, developed their summer villa on 130 acres on the second highest spot on the island in 1765. During the Revolution, George Washington headquartered there in the fall of 1776 for a few weeks. Morris and the next permanent resident, Stephen Jumel, were traders and dry goods salesman, engaged in the day’s chocolate business, among other things. At one point Aaron Burr lived there during his short marriage to Eliza Jumel, Stephen’s widow. The charming vicinity at Mount Morris has been maintained to look as it did in the late 1800s.

Chocolate Tastes
The brochure for “A Taste for Chocolate” envisions Mary Morris and Eliza Jumel breakfasting on chocolate and reproduces a June 30, 1810 bill of lading belonging to Stephen Jumel for cargo including 265 cacao bags.

Three items stood out in the show:

A delicate and handy chocolate traveling set from the Bruce Museum, dated 1845, from the Sévres Porcelain. The appurtenances fit into their slots as bonbons in a chocolate sampler.

Two elegant American porcelain dishes from 1984 decorated with cocoa pods.

This vibrant painting of a cocoa tree by Mike McMath, 2017, captures the natural beauty of our chocolate’s start.

Look around and then partake in some of the unusual chocolate products sold in the gift shop.

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On the Chocolate Trail

On the Chocolate Trail