2011 Non-fiction

I WOULD GIVE UP CHOCOLATE BUT I’M NO QUITTER!

Chocolate shops, like coffee shops, were popular in time of Louis Quatorze, the Sun King, in the 17th century.  London succumbed to its first chocolate shop, opened by a Frenchman, in 1657, advertising “this excellent West India drink”, which led to London Chocolate Houses becoming trendy meeting places where the elite of London society savoured their new luxury.  Originally, however, chocolate was not sweet and in Mexico, for example, it was, and still is, used in savoury cooking and mixes particularly well with chilli.

Cocoa, from which chocolate is created, is said to have originated in the Amazon at least four thousand years ago:  the Aztec name for chocolate is Xocolatl, pronounced Scho – co – lattel.  Thus chocolate has a long and illustrious history but this is my history of chocolate a.k.a. I Would Give Up Chocolate But I’m No Quitter! 

My earliest memory of chocolate,from when I was about two years old, is of being allowed to choose one chocolate a day from an enormous box of chocolates with a twee kitten picture on the lid.  My Aunty Elsie used to laugh uproariously when telling this tale as she said that my eyes used to grow big and round and I would always choose the biggest chocolate in the box, even if I had difficulty fitting it into my mouth – well, it makes sense if you’re only allowed one!

As a child, my favourite chocolate was a ‘Walnut Whip’; an incredibly decadent, thick chocolate cone which looked a bit like a volcano with a walnut on top.  I’d bite off the top with a relish that was almost feral and then dip my tongue into the dreamy, creamy, frothy, foam centre to find the crunchy walnut nestled at the bottom.

I must have had a cast iron stomach, too, as I remember a particularly bad Channel crossing on our return from an Austrian skiing holiday; everyone on the ferry was heaving and vomiting – the smell below decks was unbelievable – but I sat on deck in a relatively sheltered spot happily munching my way through a couple of giant bars of ‘Toblerone’:  people turned green just looking at me!  Even on deck the smell was not too good but I was fine as long as I had my chocolate – much to everyone else’s horror.

My father, too, was less than helpful, as every time my mother lost weight, he would buy her an enormous box of chocolates saying that he had married her and not her figure.

Being short of money was no impediment to buying chocolate as when I first started working in London, I was indeed very short of money but I just had to have at least one ‘Kit Kat’ a day and chose to go without lunch rather than to forgo my ‘Kit Kat’.

Even when I becamea responsible wife and mother, chocolate still held me in its thrall.  At Christmas I used to buy chocolate decorations for the Christmas tree; my favourite tree adornments were brightly coloured, foil-covered, chocolate, fondant-filled mice as I could bite off their heads and then suck at the fondant filling – mmmmm – unfortunately, however, if I bought them before Christmas Eve it was inevitable that they would all get eaten (by me) and have to be replaced.

One Easter, I remember having to replace my children’s Easter eggs four times – which meant sixteen chocolate Easter eggs!  The trouble was that if I ate one egg I had to have another to “even up” the boys to make it fair between them!

An even worse Easter was when my father sent the two boys, who were then about five and seven years old, a whole box of Cadbury cream eggs each – there must have been twenty-four cream eggs in each box and the boys probably only got to eat a couple each – after all, I knew that too much chocolate wasn’t good for the children so, really, I was doing them a good turn, wasn’t I?

At times, the need for chocolate could be quite overwhelming: one afternoon, for example, I was watching a children’s cooking program on the television and that day’s recipe was chocolate cake made with mayonnaise; of course, I simply couldn’t wait to try it, in fact I was quite desperate to try it.  Alas, all I had in the cupboard was garlic mayonnaise; the shops were shut so I was forced to use what I had in the cupboard and the cake was truly lusciously moist and delicious!

Buying a box of chocolates as a gift also presented me with a challenge:  I can’t count the number of times I have carefully wrapped up a box of chocolates to give as a present only to unwrap it and guzzle the chocolates – meaning, of course, that I had to buy yet another box of chocolates to replace the one that had assuaged my craving.

Even today, I dare not buy chocolate biscuits, as I am likely to eat the whole packet at one sitting; I have to be careful not to get ‘suckered in’ by the supermarket ‘specials’.  So, in an effort to curb my addiction and to stay relatively slim, I’ll throw away the uneaten half a packet of biscuits or bar of chocolate in the rubbish bin – the trouble is, however, that I have been known to fish them out again to eat!  My strategy to overcome this tendency is to empty the vacuum cleaner bag on top of the goodies so that they are inedible.  But I’ll tell you a secret – I have been known to throw half packets of biscuits and chocolate in to the wheelie bin and then retrieve them later to eat, even going so far as to use a pair of food tongs to reach to the very bottom of the wheelie bin because my arm wasn’t long enough!

This chocolate addiction or craving “burns a hole I my brain”.  However, a couple of years ago I discovered that if I take a daily colloidal mineral supplement, the addiction disappears because the craving is due to a mineral deficiency; chromium, to be precise.   So, chocolate can be beneficial, after all, and does have some excellent attributes.  For example, it is a high-energy food containing many minerals and vitamins; it’s also a natural anti-depressant and mood elevator – therefore, it is, in fact, very good for me!  Yippee!

Now, let me tell you “how to eat chocolate” – because there is a way of eating chocolate to suit every mood – straight from the ‘fridge so it’s hard and crunchy, or you can suck it and roll your tongue around it so it is warm and soft, smooth and sensuous, or try holding a piece of chocolate in your mouth and then drink hot coffee over it; this has a taste and texture all of its own – quite decadent – and then you have all the different textures to play around with in your mouth from soft and gooey to crisp and nutty – something to suit every mood and occasion.

Whether you are nutty person, light-hearted or calm and thoughtful, have a tender heart or are dark and brooding, there is the perfect chocolate for you.  Although, violet creams, closely followed by rose creams, are my all-time favourites, I am obviously perfect as all chocolates are perfect for me.

Word count:  1,236

Category:  Non-fiction:  2nd place New Zealand Region Writing Contest 2011 – Nissa

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