Let It Melt in your Mouth
Joanna ES Campbell
See also Sacred Fudge by Bob Mesle
I recently learned how to eat chocolate, just in time for Advent. All these years, peeling back the foil and gobbling a chocolate coin or a chocolate Santa seemed like natural holiday etiquette. Granted, this practice may be linked to the year my mom purchased Advent calendars with tiny chocolates behind each door. Being the preparer she is, she bought the Advent calendars months in advance. In that time, a leak developed in the roof of our home. Without anyone realizing, rainwater seeped into my parent’s bedroom closet where my mom kept her holiday supplies, tucked high out of reach from curious hands. The rainwater leaked onto the calendars and dried enough for my mom not to notice the damage. On the first day of Advent, she presented my brothers and me with the chocolate-filled calendars, and we couldn’t have been more excited. I pried the paper door open, and plucked the chocolate out. The taste of mold was unmistakable. And yet, I couldn’t resist. I needed to open each door each day. Even if I couldn’t consume the entire piece, I wanted to take a small bite. I needed to taste just a little bit of Advent.
Theo Chocolate in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood taught me how to eat chocolate. Theo’s is the first organic Fair Trade chocolate factory in the US. The perky tour guide passed the varied chocolate samples around the room and instructed us to let the chocolate melt on our tongues. “If you chew your chocolate,” she said, “then you’re missing out on the bouquet.” She’s right. Have you ever just let the chocolate melt in your mouth? It’s an exercise in anticipation. The rewards are great. Hints of cinnamon, cayenne, or citrus can blossom like moonflowers – their beauty takes you by surprise. Your eyes will widen. Flavors will arrive that you miss by crunching and swallowing. I liken the crunch/swallow method to guzzling homemade apple cider. If you’re thirsty, drink a tall glass of water. If you want to savor and become enveloped by warm waves of subtlety, sip the cider, let the chocolate melt, and dwell in the full, present moment.
Theo’s mission for Fair Trade includes more than just equitable wages for those who grow the cocoa beans and more than sustainable agriculture practices. Just as wine bears a terroir, a taste of place, so too does chocolate. Cocoa beans grown in Ecuador have a different flavor profile from beans grown in the Congo. The soil, the air, the water, and the hands of those tending the plants shape the taste of chocolate. When I place the chocolate sample on my tongue, I taste a little bit of a hillside in Peru blended with stories due east of the Galapagos Islands. I can’t eat Theo chocolate now without wondering about green sea turtles or what the earth smells like in Central Africa.
However you fill your home with the holiday spirit, whether in the company of scented candles, cedar boughs, steamy mugs of cider, or calendars full of chocolate, may you rest in the unfolding flavors each day brings.
Joanna ES Campbell was born in Iowa, grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, has a Masters of Science in Resource Conservation from University of Montana, is presently in the Creative Writing MFA program at Seattle Pacific University.
Also by Joanna ES Campbell
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The Color of a House: How Houses are Emotional GO
This Way to the Kingdom of Bread GO
Sacrament of the Present Oyster: A Meditation on Taste Buds GO
Recipe for a Marriage GO
How to Sell a House (When Everything's a Mystery) GO
Do You Like My Foodie Photo on Facebook? Dashing for Community GO
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Montana: Discarded Wood, Family-Owned Sawmills, and Divine Mistakes GO
Popcorn Theology GO
Cooking as Spiritual Practice GO
Skirting the Surf: The Beginning of a Marriage GO
How I Got Over Being a Radical Foodie Southern Health Nut GO
Local Food Dating Leads to God GO
Hold This Rock GO