As we have noted in several previous posts, fiction often revolves around food or drink. This sometimes presents the diligent book collector with a deliciously appetizing dilemma--e.g., should one collect culinary mysteries or Coffeehouse Mysteries?
Virtually any beverage or comestible that has long been cultivated or manufactured is likely to have figured in a wide range of fiction. That certainly is true of a toothsome sweet that often is associated with the coming holiday season, chocolate:
Consumed primarily as an unsweetened beverage for most of the cacao bean's 4000-year history, chocolate, like coffee (a beverage with which it frequently is associated), has spawned an enormous body of literature. Much of this literature is concerned with the cultivation and processing of the cacao bean. Even more of this literature is concerned with consumption of the cacao bean's processed progeny, cocoa powder and chocolate:
How best to characterize this subset? The Skokie (IL) Public Library, like the Morton Grove (IL) Public Library, seems to prefer the term chocolate fiction. We have a number of problems with this terminology, not least of which is that this term already is applied by some readers and collectors to various titles of African-American urban fiction.
David Barnett, in a recent article for The Guardian, suggests Choc-Lit, which has the added benefit of being a cute near-homophone for the substance(s) with which our subset is concerned. Unfortunately, this term also may lead to confusion among readers and collectors, as Choc-Lit is the corporate name of a respected British publisher of romance fiction (Where heroes are like chocolate - irresistible!).
In the absence of more attractive terminology, The Private Library respectfully proposes the following term and definition:
ChocoLit: any type of fiction in which cacao, cocoa or chocolate is a major thematic element
ChocoLit actually is a closer homophone than Barnett's term (at least for folks who pronounce all the syllables). While our term excludes fiction in which the cacao bean or its processed progeny make only a cameo appearance, our term makes no distinction as to whether an author's thematic concern is primarily with the cultivation, production or consumption of same. Our term encompasses literary fiction as well as genre fiction...
Something to collect in case your cookbooks are getting lonely.... :-)