AnyroadsAn Ode to ChocolateJulia Gazdag

photo by Julia Gazdag

Chocolate is not a snack. It is not a food to be taken lightly. It is a magical, sacred, refined particle of universal truth reflecting all that is good and right with the world. And so it should be treated.

Sometimes I think about what life was like a few hundred years ago, when chocolate was not something you could pick up at the corner store in large quantities. This is also back before ice cream and penicillin were invented, and let’s face it, if anything could have made plague and corsets more bearable, it would have been chocolate. How did civilization even evolve? Come to think of it, the Mayans had discovered cocoa and look where they are (or aren’t) now.

But I digress. A few years ago I was wandering around Edinburgh, Scotland and stumbled upon a little chocolate shop. It was mesmerizing. It was beyond reality. It was where cocoa came to become a Broadway star.

Display cases surrounded me, small glass raised plates extending painted little cubes of concentrated aromatic bliss. This was chocolate. This was how it was always intended to be created, admired, lavished with love and consumed with much respect and no mercy. Lavender ganache, India spice filling, chile pepper infused flavors topped one another in creativity and inventiveness.  Each cube was encoded with a painted pattern on top to reveal its contents. There was a catalogue. A catalogue! Do you have a catalogue Hershey’s? No? I didn’t think so.

This is what chocolate should be: a religious experience, created with love and devotion. When I went back a few years later, I couldn’t find the store again. Luckily, it had simply moved. I hope to never again feel the panic and despair I did in that moment. I savored the experience of wandering the store and admiring the displays, then carefully compiling a box each for both my mother and myself. Finally, I could thank her for the gift of life with an equally valuable offering.

I admit, I appreciate being able to find chocolate at the corner store. I appreciate the fact that it is attainable to all and is an equalizing element of society, infusing it with joy and deliciousness on all levels. It can be found with or without dairy, soy, or sugar content, yet retaining all flavor so that anyone with any diet can still partake. Is there anything else quite like it? And don’t say Coke, my body doesn’t deal well with caffeine, so it is not, in fact, consumable by everyone. That’s just an ad campaign that is full of lies. Lies!

Listen, I’m not here to yell at the Coca Cola company. They are wonderful people who exploit countless thousands of people around the world and have no fair trade policies the way many chocolate companies do. I’m just here to express my love for this magical substance that is derived from coca beans and has completed my life in a way that no other consumable has yet been able to. And so I hail the poetic beauty of not only those little painted squares of highest art, but of the M&M’s and Dove squares that serve us daily with grace and humility.

 

Julia Gazdag is a writer, photographer, and breakfast taco whisperer. She hails from Budapest and has lived in New York, LA and Austin before moving to Portland, OR where she is now enjoying pine trees and bridges. She is quite fond of dinosaurs. She also prefers eggs, potatoes, beans, and pico de gallo in her breakfast tacos. She writes for The College Crush and Off Our Chests. You can find her on twitter (@juliagazdag), vyou (vyou.com/anyroads). Her photos can be found on juliagazdag.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.lynn.cook Ashley Lynn Cook

    I…I….I may have to move to Edinburgh now. O_O….I am an avid chocoholic, this article has rocked my semi-sweet morsel raspberry filled world! Julia, you an I are destined to be great friends, prepare yourself. :-D ::searches for a godiva truffle::

    • http://www.facebook.com/juliagazdag Julia Gazdag

      Their website got taken down and I worry that they’ve closed — but that’s just a vicious rumor, right? RIGHT?

    • http://www.facebook.com/ashley.lynn.cook Ashley Lynn Cook

      Do we need to start an emergency chocolate shop recovery expedition?! ::straps on utility belt with kit-kat bar, ghiradelli squares, godiva truffles, hersheys syrup, and dove miniatures….then pops a truffle into mouth:: k, im ready, lets do this!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1410901694 Kristina Flathers

    Wait, is it this place http://cocochocolate.co.uk/ ? Because if there was something better, my great great great grandparents made a huge mistake leaving the UK!

    • http://www.facebook.com/juliagazdag Julia Gazdag

      No, this place was called Plaisir du Chocolat. But that looks like a great chocolate venue too and now I really want to go!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/rachel.pody Rachel Pody Allen

    When I was in my Psych of Women class in undergrad, there was a HUGE conversation on the mental benefits to chocolate…It actually boosts serotonin levels.. it blew me away and that was the day I decided a little bit of chocolate is wonderful to have… everyday… :)

    • http://www.facebook.com/juliagazdag Julia Gazdag

      I will take that health directive very very VERY seriously.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=532998856 Sarah Newman

    I live in Bristol, UK (where Fry’s created the first chocolate bar) and there are so many good chocolatiers that I can’t keep up! It’s tastebuds vs waistline at the moment.

    • http://www.facebook.com/juliagazdag Julia Gazdag

      waistline shmaistline. That sounds amazing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=759482563 Allie Zodin

    Voges chocolate = ambrosial

  • http://www.facebook.com/melapsley Melissa LaBauve Lapsley

    This may not be the same as your love in Scotland but it may get you through the rough days!!! Check out Marie Belle. http://www.mariebelle.com/
    The shop is in NYC and you can order online. The chocolates are beautiful inside and out and they have many amazing flavors!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705404809 Julianne Goble

    Omg Plaisir du Chocolat right? I absolutely love that place!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/tanya.baszner Tanya Baszner

    If you ever make it to Philadelphia there is a very similar shop called Naked Chocolate. Similar fillings, chocolate squares and entire works of art and food coloring based paint on a chocolate canvas. truly delectable. refer to photos below for confirmation:

    http://tinypic.com/r/532o0/7 — chocolate buddha
    http://tinypic.com/r/33587jn/7
    http://tinypic.com/r/2z4b9yo/7
    http://tinypic.com/r/2zjdctj/7
    http://tinypic.com/r/ixcvbl/7

    mmm

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