Saturday, November 25, 2006

Chocolate

I never thought I'd say this but I am sick of chocolate. Only a month ago I was having to navigate my way around Monoprix's garish displays of chocolate pumpkins, chocolate witches and chocolate poltergeists (OK, I made that one up) just to get to the deodorant - and now there are chocolate snowmen and Father Christmases blocking my path. It's in the muesli, in the All Bran, in the candles - it's even in the shower gel, for goodness' sake.

The French do take their chocolate very seriously and for those of us who are not true connoisseurs and whose idea of chocolate heaven is a tube of Smarties and a couple of Walnut Whips, French chocolate can come as a shock. It is strong and bitter and tastes like something the doctor might prescribe for a sport’s injury. However, once you realise it is a delicacy to be savoured and that you should let it dissolve slowly on your tongue rather than ripping off the wrapper and shoving it into your mouth half a bar at a time while waiting for the bus, you may just grow to appreciate it.

Training to be a chocolate maker - a chocolatier - is a real career option here and there is even a Université de la Confiserie (University of Confectionary) where you can study for diplomas and take courses with titles like “Making Easter a success” and “Chocolate and personal fulfilment”. Slightly more worrying is the existence of a “Brotherhood” of chocolate makers, with all the trappings of a Masonic Lodge complete with robes, Grand Master and initiation ceremonies. New recruits have to swear to “remain faithful to the Brotherhood of the Chocolate Makers of France and to eat chocolate regularly” whereupon they are solemnly dubbed a “commander of the Brotherhood” with a Ceremonial Spatula. Perhaps they even greet each other with a secret sticky handshake – who knows?

I did buy some chocolate euros in Monoprix today, though. I mean, you can't have a Christmas stocking without squished chocolate money in the bottom, can you? Well, my girls say you can and that iPods are probably a better option - but what do they know? When I was young, I was happy to find crayons and an orange in the bottom of mine. And it wasn't even a chocolate orange...

3 comments:

LargerThanLife said...

If I was on an aeroplane in the middle of the Atlantic and the captain announced that due to some terrible miscalculation, there was not enough fuel to make it to dry land and that basically we were all going to die in about 20 minutes, then I would buy all the chocolate from the duty free trolley and have a great big chocolate party and everyone on the plane would be invited. Except the captain. Obviously.

Gigi said...

Hmmnn...you sound an awful lot like my brother, largerthanlife....

French Chocolate Lover said...

Great post, thank you! Also, there is another wonderful article about French chocolate. It has some history and even recommends the best wine/chocolate combinations, which I found to be absolutely delicious. It's for real gourmets!