food / travel

Haut Chocolate: Feast Of Cocoa-Clad Models Delight Zurich's Salon Du Chocolat

Did you say Cocoa Chanel? Daring designs, fancy hairdressers, lickable tattoos, edible clothes. Switzerland, which is chocolate heaven even on a bad day, is wearing its sweetest delicacies on its sleeve as the Salon du Chocolat comes to Zurich for the fir

Chocolate fashion on the catwalk (Salon du Chocolat)
Chocolate fashion on the catwalk (Salon du Chocolat)
Esther Kern

ZURICH - Visiting the Sprüngli shop and tea room on Paradeplatz, in the heart of Zurich's shopping and banking center, is a must for all those who visit the city. Sprüngli's famous macaroons, known as Luxemburgerli, and its Truffes du Jour are prepared in its chocolate factory outside the city, in Dietikon -- where a trial run recently took place for an entirely different kind of manifestation of the chocolatier's art: body painting.

In the run-up to the opening of the first Salon du Chocolat in Switzerland, taking place in Zurich from March 30 through April 1, the sight of two specialists squeezing white chocolate out of a pastry tube onto a model�s body cast the very traditional Confiserie Sprüngli in quite another light. Sprüngli teamed up with Coiffure Valentino, part of the local Mondo Valentino beauty group (no relation to Italian designer Valentino), for the project.

The Salon du Chocolat took place in Paris for the first time in 1994, and has since branched out to 20 cities around the world. The Salon offers chocolate tastings and the possibility to watch chocolatiers at work: a whole education in chocolate. But there's an extra treat: a fashion show with clothes made from -- you guessed it. "We want to show that chocolatiers are just as worthy of the stage as fashion designers," says Sylvie Douce, the Salon's founder.

There is no fabric whatsoever between the chocolate and model Magdalena's skin. In the way henna is applied in ornamental motifs to skin in some cultures, Sprüngli staffers Angela Jordi and Philipp-Marius Renggli are applying the chocolate swirls to the model's legs, arms, shoulders and neck (she is otherwise clad in a clingy tank top). The human body temperature being 37 °Celsius, this represents quite a challenge since the melting point for chocolate is 33 °Celsius, and white chocolate melts even faster than brown chocolate. "We had to figure out a way to raise the melting temperature," Renggli says. They managed by adding pectin, a binder, among other things. "You have to make the patterns on a body much bigger than you would on a cake," stresses Jordi.

The dress rehearsal was the perfect test of just how long the chocolate would hold before it started to melt. It began with the model being styled as she would have been before any catwalk show. Local Italian beauty entrepreneur Valentino was present personally, talking details over with some of his staffers. The creative process for the performance that takes place on March 29 live at the Salon's pre-opening, and will later be shown on film, "was a step for both sides," Valentino explained. A step away from the eccentricity for which he is known and, for the venerable 175-year-old firm of Sprüngli, a step towards something somewhat more daring.

Read the original article in German

Photo: Salon du Chocolat

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What It Means When The Jews Of Germany No Longer Feel Safe

A neo-Nazi has been buried in the former grave of a Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender – not an oversight, but a deliberate provocation. This is just one more example of antisemitism on the rise in Germany, and society's inability to respond.

At a protest against antisemitism in Berlin

Eva Marie Kogel


BERLIN — If you want to check the state of your society, there's a simple test: as the U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, John Jay McCloy, said in 1949, the touchstone for a democracy is the well-being of Jews. This litmus test is still relevant today. And it seems Germany would not pass.

Incidents are piling up. Most recently, groups of neo-Nazis from across the country traveled to a church near Berlin for the funeral of a well-known far-right figure. He was buried in the former grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender, a gravesite chosen deliberately by the right-wing extremists.

The incident at the cemetery

They intentionally chose a Jewish grave as an act of provocation, trying to gain maximum publicity for this act of desecration. And the cemetery authorities at the graveyard in Stahnsdorf fell for it. The church issued an immediate apology, calling it a "terrible mistake" and saying they "must immediately see whether and what we can undo."

There are so many incidents that get little to no media attention.

It's unfathomable that this burial was allowed to take place at all, but now the cemetery authorities need to make a decision quickly about how to put things right. Otherwise, the grave may well become a pilgrimage site for Holocaust deniers and antisemites.

The incident has garnered attention in the international press and it will live long in the memory. Like the case of singer-songwriter Gil Ofarim, who recently claimed he was subjected to antisemitic abuse at a hotel in Leipzig. Details of the crime are still being investigated. But there are so many other incidents that get little to no media attention.

Photo of the grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

The grave of Jewish musicologist Max Friedlaender

Jens Kalaene/dpa/ZUMA

Crimes against Jews are rising

Across all parts of society, antisemitism is on the rise. Until a few years ago, Jewish life was seen as an accepted part of German society. Since the attack on the synagogue in Halle in 2019, the picture has changed: it was a bitter reminder that right-wing terror against Jewish people has a long, unbroken history in Germany.

Stories have abounded about the coronavirus crisis being a Jewish conspiracy; meanwhile, Muslim antisemitism is becoming louder and more forceful. The anti-Israel boycott movement BDS rears its head in every debate on antisemitism, just as left-wing or post-colonial thinking are part of every discussion.

Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

Since 2015, the number of antisemitic crimes recorded has risen by about a third, to 2,350. But victims only report around 20% of cases. Some choose not to because they've had bad experiences with the police, others because they're afraid of the perpetrators, and still others because they just want to put it behind them. Victims clearly hold out little hope of useful reaction from the state – so crimes go unreported.

And the reality of Jewish life in Germany is a dark one. Sociologists say that Jewish children are living out their "identity under siege." What impact does it have on them when they can only go to nursery under police protection? Or when they hear Holocaust jokes at school?

Germany needs to take its antisemitism seriously

This shows that the country of commemorative services and "stumbling blocks" placed in sidewalks as a memorial to victims of the Nazis has lost its moral compass. To make it point true north again, antisemitism needs to be documented from the perspective of those affected, making it visible to the non-Jewish population. And Jewish life needs to be allowed to step out of the shadows.

That is the first thing. The second is that we need to talk about specifically German forms of antisemitism. For example, the fact that in no other EU country are Jewish people so often confronted about the Israeli government's policies (according to a survey, 41% of German Jews have experienced this, while the EU average is 28%). Projecting the old antisemitism onto the state of Israel offers people a more comfortable target for their arguments.

Our society needs to have more conversations about antisemitism. The test of German democracy, as McCloy called it, starts with taking these concerns seriously and talking about them. We need to have these conversations because it affects all of us. It's about saving our democracy. Before it's too late.

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