Chocolate is one of those topics where it is impossible to write about it without offending someone around the globe. Very much like perfume, it is a very personal choice and there is really no arguing which is the better chocolate, because in you will always be wrong in someone’s eyes. Accept it: when it comes to chocolate, there is no definitive answer nor is there a clearcut right or wrong view. Whatever my views are here though, please remember that these are not gospel truth, and your chocolate relationship is yours! By the way, did you know that chocolate relationships is now an trigger in some search engines and romance genres?! Let’s be clear about the parameters here, when I refer to chocolate relationships in this blog, I speak only of the cacao type, and nothing related to the BDSM scene… before anyone gets any ideas.
My chocolate relationship began with Cadbury back in my Kenya childhood days. I have vivid memories of chocolates in purple tin boxes before chocolate bars became a thing in my world. Add to this the rolls of Smarties that came in paper tubes with colourful plastic tops. This was about the time I lost any and all interest in orange-flavoured chocolate though. In any case, by the time we moved to Mexico in 1974, my taste buds were completely re-programmed to the American market and I fell head over heals in sweetness with just about all Hershey’s products, beginning with Hershey’s Kisses. Then came the very dangerous friendship with M&Ms, After Eight, Snickers, Mars, Bounty and Reeses, which continued well into my college years. To this day, before I indulge in a healthy protein bar or smoothie, I prefer to obliterate (ha! violent much?) my hunger with a Snickers bar.
It was only in my early 20s that I was properly introduced to European chocolates, and I have been munching my way through Swiss, Belgian, Dutch, Austrian and of course German chocolates ever since, which is ironic considering I hail from a family of diabetics. Nevertheless, chocolate has been and always will be a staple in my pantry and/or fridge, regardless of what the doctor says.
Chocolate! Let me count the seductive ways:
Massage or body scrub: If you haven’t tried it yet, I insist you experience a chocolate body scrub or massage at least once in your lifetime. It is a godawful mess, and even the massage therapists are reluctant to do it in summer, but it certainly is an unforgettable experience. There is definitely nothing erotic or relaxing about it, but it is supposedly good for a glowing skins. The jury is still out on that one, and ever since that very sticky experience I turn the other way whenever it is on offer in the list of spa services. Half the time you are wondering when you will be offered a platter of fruits to dip in the massage goo, and the rest of the time you panic about all the ants that might crawl up your legs afterwards.
Fruity or nutty: This was always the big debate in my family while growing up. My dad preferred chocolate with raisins where as my mother would go bonkers over anything with nuts. Moi? I ate both, and to this day I will indulge in an entire bar of hazelnut and raisin and refuse to share. Again, I have met people who get positively violent over the defilement of the sacred chocolate with anything other than milk and sugar, so when comes to choosing something from a box, I usually hold back until the purists have chosen and then I make my move. Anything they didn’t take will be fine with me.
Spicy and savoury: I’ve ventured into some exclusive chocolate ateliers where chocolate with chilli or paprika was on offer, as well as pepper, kefir lime, lemon grass, bacon, cheese, just to name a few. Of all these weird and wonderful flavours, the chilli version was the most edible one, because it reminded me of the Mexican mole sauce.
Chocolate covered insects: I’ve had chocolate covered ants, and I can’t say I am a fan. I drew the line at beetles, grasshoppers, and worms though. There are places that will offer an entire insect platter as an option for a chocolate fondue evening. I pass. Suddenly fruits and marshmallows pale in comparison don’t they?
Dark, white, or bitter? Who cares! Main thing is you have your fingers on chocolate to make you happy. Again, there is no right answer here. The health-conscious people will opt for a 75% or 85% purity, which is pushing the limit for me, but I’ve come to adore in the meantime. Give me a box of truffles with all of the above and I’ll be perfectly content with them, especially of there are nutty or marzipan options involved. I once had a French colleague who would make mountains of truffles for Christmas. She would bundle up in her snow clothes and sit outside in the freezing temperatures to roll all the truffles by hand. If you were part of the inner circle, there would be little bag of truffles on your desk on the last day of work. She never saw the value of baking fruitcakes but she would spend weeks on end with those truffles! Now that’s what I call delicious memories.
Comfort food: I have always considered chocolate as an indulgence or reward rather than a comfort food, even during my darkest hours of depression. I suppose it is part of my upbringing in a diabetic household, where the chocolate was controlled and consumed in limited quantities. I can go to town with a whole tub of chocolate ice cream to drown my sorrows, but chocolate bars or pralines are more of a coveted prize. There are some folks out there though who will fill their shopping carts with chocolate bars when dealing with depression or isolation, and many women will resort to chocolate to offset PMS.
Chocolate and Migraines: this is a tricky one. Many doctors will tell you that wine and chocolate trigger migraines, and that may well be the case. In my experience however, last night being my most recent one, chocolate is the only thing that will bring me some relief during a migraine. I sent my daughter out to hunt down a couple of nutty fruity bars, and she returned triumphantly with the goods. I munched on one until about 4:00am this morning, which then had me up and about pottering in the kitchen. It is by no means a proper remedy, but it helped me keep my stamina up when I couldn’t keep any other solids down.
Let me end with this quote I stumbled upon:
“Chocolate symbolises, as does no other food, luxury, comfort, sensuality, gratification and love”
– Karl Petzke