A golden day back in my time of progression through childhood days finds me alone in the house…alone in the kitchen in front of the dreary-green painted baking supply cupboard. Hmmm, no disapproving household overseer of advanced age (my mother was at least twenty five by then) to tell me that the box of chocolate hidden behind the Rumford baking powder, third shelf, is off limits. And if no one says no, well then the answer must be yes.
Balancing on a matching dreary colored kitchen chair I reach the box. I eagerly pull it out, tipping only a little of the baking powder in the process, and withdraw a paper-wrapped square. Unwrap, deep breath, deeper anticipation, huge bite. Then…oh no! grunting exclamation expressing disgust! (my dictionary’s definition of ‘ugh‘.)
My seven-year-old mind knows chocolate is sweet. So who poisoned this batch? Its taste is bitter. I hastily spew the repugnant contents into the trash, quickly rewrap the ravaged chunk and bury it at the bottom of its box. And I carefully return it to its humble hiding place behind the baking powder in the dreary green cupboard.
My indiscretion weighs heavily on me for weeks, worrying about the discovery of the missing bite. Maybe I could blame a mouse. How about a hungry hobo? I choose, imagine and practice a hobo tale just in case.
But if it ever was discovered it was apparently long after I grew up and away. Mom wasn’t exactly an enthusiastic cook (I used to cry because I had to eat her applesauce, seeds, core and all) so she probably never baked her way to the bottom of the chocolate box.
Anyhow, I learned this type of chocolate is baking chocolate and is planned to taste like that. Go figure.
I advanced, despite my harrowing experience, to become a connoisseur of the chocolate. Milk Duds, Baby Ruth, Hershey, Butterfinger. I even got to Hershey, PA., which has to be the most aroma blessed spot on the earth. I don’t know where I imagined chocolate came from before the stop in Hershey, but for some reason I was struck by astonishment to learn that it grows on trees. Not even learning where babies come from had taken me so much aback.
My discoveries of truffles, fancy gourmet chocolates and the world-famous fudges created on Michigan’s Mackinac Island rocked my world. So did pounds and guilt. Sweet deliciousness came with a price that had few readily apparent dollar signs. But high cholesterol and other health problems added ominous voices to the cost chorus. As the scales inched upward, I feared that I would be forced to by-pass the basket of chocolate goodies my co-workers and I kept stocked for each other in the corner (conveniently) next to the phone.
Then another golden day dawned when an unusual combination of words appeared in the newspapers. Oh glory! ‘Chocolate’ shared the same sentences as ‘heart-healthy’, ‘antioxidant-rich flavanoids’, and ‘may lower blood pressure’.
Of course this didn’t mean that the road to super health was paved with pure chocolate. There were caveats. One such was that dark chocolate was best. But hey, I could live with that! A less friendly qualifier was the statement ‘in moderation’. I could live with that, too, especially if I was allowed to define ‘in moderation.’ But perhaps that would not be playing by the rules. Oh well. I acquiesce on this point.
I relax in the knowledge that to know chocolate does not necessarily translate into no chocolate.
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