Before we moved here, I had heard rumours that chocolate tasted different in America. But with a list of priorities that included making sure our house contents made it here in one piece, not losing any of the kids at the airport, and squeezing winter duvets, nappies and all manner of bulky items into half a dozen giant suitcases while staying within the allowed weight – somehow, chocolate didn’t figure much in my thoughts.
Then, one day, about a month later, we were in the supermarket, loading our shopping onto the conveyor belt at the till, and we had a look at the shelf behind us that displayed an assortment of chocolate bars. So many strange names and packets! Reese, Mr Big and Coffee Crunch lay side-by-side with Twix, Bounty and Snickers. And what the hell was O Henry?
We each picked something, the kids and K all went for something new, but I reverently selected a bar of Dairymilk….. it had been a while, a lot had changed in my life, and I craved the unadulterated enjoyment of simple, solid chocolate. I deserved some Cadbury joy and no frivolous peanut or nougat was going to mar this long-awaited hit!
As we strolled homeward, the sun sinking in the sky, the kids leapt about and shrieked their delight at the novelty of their choices, describing tastes and contents and comparing the relative merits of each others treats. But it all faded to a distant cacophony as I put a square of Dairymilk into my mouth and waited for that slow spread of chocolate ecstasy, as it melted on my tongue and permeated my taste buds…
It never came.
The taste was different, hollow, plastic. I was reminded of the time my sister told me to close my eyes and open my mouth, telling me she was giving me chocolate, then fed me cheese instead. I spat it out in disgust, not because I disliked cheese, but because it wasn’t what I was expecting. “They” were right. Chocolate was different here. With that realisation: no more chocolate as a soothing salve for life’s slings and arrows, the bottom fell out of my world.
I hid it well, no-one would have been any the wiser about the little light in me that had been extinguished. But I knew from then on, that the special relationship between chocolate and I had come to an end. I cited “Irreconcilable differences (in taste)”…
I am now in a long-distance relationship with real Dairymilk. It’s difficult, we have no contact for long periods of time, and then, when we are reunited we try to take things slowly, taking time to savour and appreciate, extending the experience as far as we can (it’s all very tantric). Sometimes I seek solace outside our relationship, but it is never meaningful. Just
sex chocolate – nothing more.
O, divine chocolate!
They grind thee kneeling,
Beat thee with hands praying,
And drink thee with eyes to heaven
Marco Antonio Orellana, 18th Century