Celestial Chocolate.

Author:Smith, Sylvia

Sublime, fantastic and celestial are adjectives often used to described the flavour of chocolate, but in the case of Mirzam celestial is a doubly significant. Stars in the night skies guided Arab sailors navigating along the treacherous spice routes. Those sailing in difficult waters would look up to the brilliant points in the sky and calculate the direction of travel from the position of the celestial bodies.

The star Mirzam or beta ([beta]) Canis Major, was often combined by the Arabs with the star beta ([beta]) Canis Minor (Gomeisa) and these two beta stars together were called The Announcers, heralding the coming of Sirius, the biggest star in the sky. In Arabia they were imagined as two dogs. One can imagine barking dogs on a hunt, announcing that the prey is in sight or barking dogs bringing some potential danger to their master's attention. Dovetailing the love of hunting hounds, the owners of Mirzam have extrapolated on the star motif.

As with the countless stars so with the chocolate. There isn't just one type of cocoa bean. Mirzam the chocolate makers use antique maps as a guide to source their cocoa and ingredients all of which are inspired by the produce of exotic lands along the maritime spice route. It's an interesting use of history and tradition in an industry that often produces overly sugary confections that contain little of the raw ingredients that were sought after by the traders of old.

Weaving the region's maritime trade as a theme with good quality ingredients also brings a special nuance to the chocolate itself; the artfully-designed wrappers which feature storybook stars and spooky sea monsters anticipate an exotic and thrilling experience.

Designing your own wrapper was one of the ways the Dubai-based chocolate firm engaged with visitors at Dubai Design Week so linking history with the decorative arts. Encouraging visitors to put paint on their brushes and let their imaginations take them to distant lands, chocolate took on its own history and became for a while the compass for new adventures of the mind.

Particularly compelling is the move away from the commercial chocolate branding where getting the chocolate bar's name in the largest of letters is the priority. Replacing a word with beautifully crafted images is a real treat...

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