I was looking for birthday cards this week and the title above was all that was written on one of them. It got me thinking. About chocolate, not quitting.
As a small child, the only chocolate I knew about was Cadbury’s. My Dad was a Whole Nut fan, while Mum loved Fruit and Nut. They both contained nuts, so I was happy – I loved the contrast of flavours as hard nut mixed with the smoothness of the chocolate. If we children were very good, we might be given a couple of cubes, but bars of chocolate stayed in the house for a week, at least, rather than being consumed in one go. (I am sure that there is a law against that somewhere!) We did have Nestle︠ Milky Bar (“The Milky Bars are on me”) too, but it was called “Nestles” in those days. It couldn’t appear too foreign.
As I grew older, I became aware of Galaxy… Oh, of course, I tried it, and I quite liked it, as it melted on my tongue, filling my mouth with a chocolaty smoothness I had never before encountered, but I kept going back to Cadbury’s. Only milk chocolate, mind you, but not that bitter tasting dark stuff that people dared to give my Mum as a present – Black Magic and such like. And those nasty liqueur chocolates! Why give those as presents? I didn’t like them!
And then I heard someone mention Belgian chocolate.
“What’s that then?” I asked.
“It’s gorgeous. Haven’t you ever had it?”
Suddenly I felt deprived. There was a whole world of chocolate out there about which I knew nothing.
I think that is when the search began. Before the Internet, the only way to get information was to go to the library or physically seek out purveyors of chocolate. But where to start? I’m good at talking to people so that was where my search began – it’s easy to get people to talk about chocolate.
I learned about those fresh, ripe strawberries dipped in chocolate, preferably accompanied by very chilled champagne. Mmmm. The smoothness of the chocolate and the bubbles of the champagne mingled to cause a fizzy smoothness on my tongue. I discovered Thorntons and its long history of chocolate making. It took quite a while to work my way through all of its range. Now, years later, I don’t remember the names of some of those fine chocolatiers, but I do remember the ecstasy of trying different makes and types: cherries dipped in chocolate, with only the stalk naked, chocolate covered almonds… I was even given a recipe for Chocolate Chicken (now that, you have to try!!!). I learned that the seed of the cacao tree has to be fermented in order for its flavour to develop and then dried and roasted in order for it to develop into the brown magic that I love.
As time went by, my palate evolved and I developed a taste for dark chocolate… I discovered the joys of Green and Blacks Organic Chocolate (the range of flavours is indecent). Later came Hotel Chocolat and its divine range of soft, smooth truffles; sweet, soft caramels, nutty pralines, and yes, even liqueur chocolates. And of course, Thorntons. Who knew that they’ve been in business for over a hundred years? I did try Belgian chocolate too, reputed to be the best chocolate in the world, but, aside from the pralines, I’ll be honest, I can take it or leave it. It seems sweeter than good old fashioned English chocolate to me, more cloying clinging to my teeth like cat climbing curtains. But I’m prepared to keep trying. Oh no, I am definitely not a quitter.
Love and Light
©Susan Shirley 2013