I am Dr. Chocolate. In 2008, I earned a PhD from the University of Washington by studying chocolate. Now, I am on the hunt for the best chocolate in the world.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The seventh continent

All has been quiet on the chocolate front since the Seattle festival, but it is time now to complete another goal: to eat chocolate on all seven continents. I've already got North America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. Tomorrow begins the quest for Latin America and Antarctica.

At 3am, I start a two-day journey to the bottom of the world: the Antarctic continent. To prepare for this - certainly my longest single journey, and quite possibly my shortest trip abroad ever - I have been reading about Antarctica for the past few weeks. My favorite book so far has been Antarctica: A Guide to the Wildlife. It's a slim guide. The chapter called "Terrestrial Plants and Insects" is just one page long, documenting several lichen and some mites. The next chapter is about a single krill. The first page has a sketch of the krill; the next, a different sketch of the same krill, only cooked.

I'm pretty sure that the krill is about to become the most captivating creature in my world. As the crux of the very short Antarctic food chain - plankton --> krill --> whale - it forms the link between the world's tiniest animal, and its largest mammal. Right now the krill are in season, so the waters are teeming with life.

Mostly, though, I think the main tourist attraction in Antarctica is ice. This isn't ice as we know it, like ice cubes, or iced tea, or even Snowcones. Antarctic ice appears to be a different breed entirely, powerful in a way that we of the temperate latitudes probably will never understand. Here is a short video to illustrate what I cannot adequately capture in words, mainly because I have to leave at 3am for the airport: wondrous Antarctic brinicle.

See what I mean?? Antarctic ice is awesome and terrifying, especially for the poor starfish.

Anyhow, I'm bringing some chocolate with me, so I can eat it in South America and then on the Antarctic continent itself. I have a nice bar packed in my backpack. I will hope that it does not go out of temper on the journey. More to come from the road, assuming I can find some computers along the way.

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