Chocolate makes you a believer in humanity.

When I was a kid, chocolates were a luxury in India. Sweets were usually hard candy and toffees. My earliest memory of chocolate abundance is a bag of chocolate eclairs someone gifted my dad. I had never eaten anything like them before and boasted to a friend that I’d eaten “elcairs” while she corrected me, insisting they were “eclairs.”

Another funny memory from my early teens is of my otherwise stingy dad plying me with chocolate. He said he knew my weakness for chocolate and was afraid that some pedo would lure me with a bar of chocolate. Did he really think that, or was that his roundabout way of expressing his love?  

When I moved to the US, it was chocolate heaven, although I resent that chocolate is called candy here, like Indians are Asians. There is something special about how the word chocolate rolls off your tongue, like champagne. Chocolate is a word worthy of what it represents. I was also disappointed that my favorite Cadbury’s Dairy Milk or Fruit and Nut did not taste half as good in the US as they did back home. Instead of their creamy richness, you got a cloying sweetness. I then read somewhere that British chocolate has more milk while US-made chocolate is more sugar-heavy. Also, Cadbury’s, India’s pride, was a lowly cousin of Hershey’s and Ghirardelli’s in the US.   

But now that I can buy all the chocolate I want, the body cannot take it; such is life. In NYC, my booby trap is the Lindt Store and its assortment of European chocolates. Sometimes my feet revolt against my brain and take me there, and it is chocolate heaven. And like the Alfred Molina character in Chocolat, carnage follows.

Like the thorns of the rose, chocolate also pricks with allegations of child and forced labor in the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and other countries, it is heartbreaking that these kids have never tasted chocolate. Although the big companies are trying to ensure that our chocolate is untainted, there is work to be done. The biggest challenge is accurately tracing the source of the cocoa bean. I remember enthusiastically approaching a woman selling her own gourmet fair trade chocolate at the Farmer’s market to ask about her sourcing. But she answered with a cold, “I don’t know; I am an artist, not a supplier.” 

Nothing is more pleasurable than a smooth, decadent piece of chocolate filling your mouth and mind with endorphins. I once did a mindful eating exercise in class with Lindt truffles instead of the usual raisins. But most students did not get through the exercise of feeling the roundness of the truffle in their mouth and slowly exploring its smooth curves with their tounges and ate the truffles right away. So, we needed round two to practice mindful eating.  Such is the power of chocolate, the only dictator I will gladly allow to oppress me.

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