Chocolates for the elect show Calvin’s soft centre

06 November 2008

by Bill Bowder

Cartoon: NOEL FORD

Cartoon: NOEL FORD

CHOCOLATE BON-BONS have been created by a Swiss chocolatier to honour the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Reformer John Calvin The chocolates were ordered by the Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches.

“It was an interesting challenge,” said Blaise Poyet of the Maison Poet company. “It’s not easy to represent theological ideas by using the taste buds,” he told Ecumenical News International. Getting the taste right took weeks of discussion and research. He has included ingredi­ents local to Geneva which were available 500 years ago. They include lemon verbena, which was used to represent the reformer’s ability to plant new ideas and to see them flourish.

The first layer of the sweet was based on a smooth, runny praline mix. “But we have reformed it,” Mr Poyet said. He had used crunchy caramelised hazelnuts, and salt from the Alps, to make the praline slightly savoury. He also used a “chocolate grand cru from Bolivia”, made from 68-per-cent cocoa paste, to signify Calvin’s theology of perfection.

Aware that Calvinism hid a soft heart within its austere demands, he used a caramel made from Swiss cheese to suggest “in a discreet way this love for one’s neighbour”.

The chocolates, which cost £11.50 for a dozen, are part of the Calvin09 programme of events and products launched on Sunday at the start of the anniversary celebrations. Other products include a cartoon calendar, “illustrated humorously by famous Geneva cartoonists”.

Kristin Rossier, a member of the Swiss Protestant Federation, said that the year was not intended to make Calvin a hero or a saint. “His errors and the grey areas of his thought will also be discussed, such as the rigour of the discipline he imposed and the lack of tolerance he showed towards his opponents.”

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