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I love chocolate and eat a little almost every day. I grew up feeling a little guilty about eating candy but I ate it anyway. But, oh how I wish my elders, instead of guilt tripping me about chocolate, had convinced me to wash out my mouth right away after eating it, and to brush my teeth as soon as possible. I still eat candy but rarely get dental cavities anymore because of that small addition to the habit.

The chocolate industry has managed to create the myth that an ounce of chocolate every day will lower one’s blood pressure. Since I want to eat chocolate it was easy to convince me of the truth of their assertions. The wine industry has been promulgating a similar myth and recommending a single glass of red wine every day. Upon closer research it appears that the healthful part of wine is best acquired by drinking a serving of Concord grape juice every day because it has lots of antioxidants which supposedly clean up the gunk which resides in the cells after metabolizing energy. Perhaps something similar will befall chocolate, but I hope it doesn’t.

I had my chocolate experience at the other end of this Avenue of the Dead.

Chocolate is the food of the Meso-American gods, and although I am certainly no god, I do agree with their tastes in this case. Those particular gods did have a taste for human blood, which I don’t, but chocolate I do love. However, there is a serious problem with chocolate, especially chocolate in the form of hot drinks. It loses its goodness rather quickly. I have had some exquisite experiences with chocolate, but the most sublime was on the Avenida del Muerte (Avenue of the Gods), Teotihuacan, Mexico at the Club Med swimming pool veranda. It was a hot chocolate drink with some whipped cream and a few local spices. I have no idea what they were; however, the first sips were divine and I was as close to heaven as I am ever likely to get, culinarily speaking. The second approach to this particular cup was nearly as wonderful, and being one who likes to stretch my pleasures out a bit, I was drinking this drink of the gods rather slowly while eating my breakfast. Now, for the second shocking part. As I neared the bottom of this cup of ecstasy it suddenly turned hideous. It became the foulest thing I ever had, some strange concoction of super bitter and damp musty basement garbage. So one of my most pleasurable and most horrible experiences were very close together.

I have paid close attention to my chocolate-eating experiences, and last month there was another one. My spouse won an online contest (she is very smart), and the prize was several boxes of, you guessed it, chocolate. Godiva chocolate. We limited ourselves to two pieces per meal. We cut each piece in half, so with each supper we actually ate four half-size pieces. That was enjoyable. And I mention it because it sets a baseline from which you can do you own chocolate-eating experiments which follow. As good as that chocolate was, it can easily be surpassed. Here’s how.

Don’t eat any chocolate just yet until reading through this little experiment. Get some reasonably good quality chocolate. I have been nibbling through the various Trader Joe’s half-kilogram chocolate slabs one little square at a time. It may not be the greatest, but it’s quite adequate and readily available. All of their chocolate varieties are good, but for this experiment, to duplicate my results, use the 72%  dark chocolate one, and for the comparison, choose a specific individual Godiva chocolate, such as a raspberry-filled one, cut in two so you have a small portion. Having a second one will give you another chance to taste its qualities after what I am about to propose. This is simplicity itself.

Have some freshly opened jam such as raspberry, to match your commercial flavored one, and some fresh butter, or margarine if you choose, and whatever other ingredients are in the prepared chocolates in what you guess to be their proportions. Perhaps a quarter teaspoon of peanut butter, or I prefer sunflower butter. The point is to have as  near perfectly fresh ingredients as possible at every opportunity, even the jams might be newly made if you are so inclined. Once you have them all available put each of these tiny portions onto a tablespoon for ready eating. The final quantity should be approximately the same as in the commercial portion.

Eating chocolate is an art in itself, and timing is absolutely essential. You must not gulp chocolate down because, and I don’t know why, it takes a good thirty seconds for the flavor to work itself into the taste buds. So, let the bite warm up in your mouth and intermittently chew a time or two, then pause and experience the flavors and odors. Remember not to swallow too quickly. Take your time. I much prefer to do this in silence because I don’t want to be distracted by conversation. Anything can interfere with the subtlety. Did I make it clear?

Take it very slowly and quietly when eating chocolate !!!.

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