Growing up on chocolate

I've met Lora Brody only once. She is certainly friendly. She's pleasant, chatty, and smiles a lot. However, there's one place where we part company. She loves chocolate! It bores me. I'm tired of the plethora of books, articles, magazines, and recipes on the subject.

Not that I'm totally against the stuff. A gooey brownie once or twice a year with a tall glass of ice-cold milk is fine. And maybe half a chocolate truffle on a special occasion, if I'm with someone who will eat the other half. But chocolate lasagna? Give me a break!

At a chocolate-tasting session, several of Ms. Brody's impressive chocolate creations were presented to public and press. Invited guests clasped their hands, raised their eyes, swooned, and wept with delight as Ms. Brody stepped up to the table, slid an engraved silver cake knife from the white damask tablecloth, and raised it above one of her chocolate b^etes noires.

I saved my tears for later -- while reading Ms. Brody's hysterically funny ``Growing Up on the Chocolate Diet -- a Memoir with Recipes'' (Little Brown, $16.95). A diet, Ms. Brody explains in the first paragraph, with the support of Mr. Webster, is ``the usual or regular foods a person eats most frequently.''

Ms. Brody has timed the book perfectly. Chocolate has been hyped as far as it can go, and how often have you heard people say about cookbooks, ``Oh, I read them like novels!'' The book is more than just readable. Sprinkled throughout, like chocolate chips in a cookie, are serious recipes and Ms. Brody's humorous bits. Here, in a Woody Allen-like style, she shares her chocolate dreams, challenges, failures, successes.

If you enjoy chocolate and humor, it's a double treat. If the former is enough, you've got dozens of chocolate challenges to choose from. If the latter is enough, the book is still worth its weight in Godiva chocolates. I'm even tempted to try the recipe for Chocolate Lasagna.

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