Off beat: Years melt away as professor makes chocolate replica of ancient statue



Ian Titterton takes chocolate seriously.

Plenty of people like chocolate. Some take it seriously in a silly sort of way.

The Clark College culinary professor can appreciate that viewpoint, and has examples of chocolate-covered wit and wisdom posted on the wall of his kitchen/classroom.

Things like …

“There’s a thin person in me screaming to get out, but I keep her sedated with chocolate.”

And …

“If you’ve got melted chocolate on your hands, you’re eating it too slowly.”

People who share that philosophy have provided a good living for Titterton, formerly the executive chocolatier at Moonstruck Chocolates in Portland.

But chocolate also offered Titterton a link with an artist who lived in the area eight centuries ago, an opportunity he calls almost a spiritual experience.

Titterton created chocolate replicas of several artifacts for the recent Clark County Historical Museum fundraising auction. They included a statue of a human figure, about 20 inches long, carved from basalt.

The sculpture was found in the 1940s in the Columbia Slough, near Camas. It dates to around 1200 AD, said Susan Tissot, the museum’s executive director.

“I got such a charge out of that,” Titterton said after sculpting a chocolate twin of the stone figure. “There was something magical to hold the real one, feel the grooves and contours, then use the heat from my hands to follow those patterns and mimic them in chocolate.”

The only thing close to that experience, from a chocolate standpoint, came a few years ago when he traveled to the Central American country of Belize.

“I had never seen it in its first form,” he said. During a visit to a plantation, “I felt a cacao bud growing on a tree. I saw it dried by Mayans, and taken to a co-op.”

Finger-lickin’ gone

While the stone sculpture might be around for another 800 years, Titterton’s chocolate replica is nothing but a tasty memory.

It was auctioned off for $275. The winning bidder — Oregon State Auditor Gary Blackmer — took it to work to share with people in his office.

It was gone in two days.

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.