I Heart Chocolate

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Oh dear…I’ve overindulged on cremini again.

Oh, cremino, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Actually, let’s not. I’m terrified of what I might discover about myself –or worse, reveal to you– in the process. But I do love cremino. With its layers of chocolate and hazelnut and all sorts of other goodness, it’s da morire. Translation: “To die for.” I still remember the first time I unwrapped my first piece (Limone). And my second (Pistacchio). And my third (Mandorla). Don’t judge me; it was a box of assorted flavors – a box full of mouthgasms with every new flavor. The month leading up to my stay here, a friend very kindly sent me torturous photos of cremini and various other dolci. Every new photo evoked a well-earned parolaccia, or cuss word. (Don’t worry, he made it up to me by porting a bag of cremini to the airport when I arrived.)

In middle school, I was voted “Most Likely to Make Chocolate a Food Group.” I think I’ve live up to expectations, being especially successful at promoting chocolate consumption in the workplace and amongst friends. Hey, it’s always happier when you share, right? Nearly every day these past few weeks has involved walking into a chocolate/pastry shop or eating large quantities of chocolate/sweets. You’d think I’d stuff myself sick. Nope. In fact, I’ve recently been to a chocolate fair. There were chocolate logs, chocolate truffles, chocolate crisps, chocolate in the shape of shoes and iPhones and guitars and pets and forest animals. Chocolate-dipped fruit, chocolate bricks with nuts, liquor-filled chocolate, chocolate cores in chocolate shells rolled in powdered chocolate. I wish I’d taken more photos for you, but I was a little too distracted by walking around this faux-paradise. (How selfish of me, right?) I did manage to snap a few photos though, including one displaying truffles filled with absinthe (yes, absinthe), and another couple of photos of chocolate in the shape of tools (I know, right?). For good measure, there are also a couple of photos of a quaint chocolate shop in Rome, tucked away on a little side street near Piazza della Pilotta, called La Bottega del Cioccolato.

Coincidentally, said shop also has hot chocolate – not the normal kind, mind you. I’m talking about extremely thick “hot chocolate” that I’ve only ever seen in southern Europe. The kind that, the first time I tried it, I was momentarily confused about whether it was actually for drinking or just for dipping churros in; it looked like someone had taken a big bar of dark chocolate and melted it into a cup. And it tasted even better than it looked. Spanish Tazza de Chocolate –not to be confused with Batida de Chocolate, which more closely resembles American hot cocoa– and I are involved in a love affair that will span the ages. Actually, it’s a love square that also includes Chocolate Quente and Cioccolata Calda (the Portuguese and Italian versions, respectively. See photo below.).

Digging into the chocolate jar as I wrap up this post, I find a rare piece of Dove chocolate. Unwrapping a little piece of home, I read the inside message on the foil: “Don’t settle for a spark. Light a fire instead.” Geez, even chocolate wants to inspire me these days.