Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chocolate, Anyone?

Is it possible to have too much chocolate? Most people would answer with an emphatic "No!" and I would have to agree with them. Oh, I know some people don't care for chocolate, and people who make chocolates can grow tired of them. Remember the famous I Love Lucy skit where she and Ethel got jobs in a candy factory? Lucy and Ethel did not end up big chocolate fans. As a general rule, though, choclate is a favorite treat and people always want more.

Ordinarily, I would want more, too, but at this moment, Michael and I have hit the chocolate saturation point and just aren't enthusiastic any longer. "How did this astonishing change of heart come about?" you ask. "Well," I answer, "it all started in October ..."

When I visited my mother in Montana at the end of October, she had just returned from a visit with my brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Lynn, in Bismarck, ND. Lynn is a pharmacist and Bob runs the Medicine Shop pharmacy they own in Mandan, ND. In addition, they own a soda fountain store and the candy-making business that came with it. Every year since they became candy tycoons, Bob and Lynn have made the kindly gesture of sending family members a box of Lindy Sue chocolates. They are delicious and much appreciated.

This year, Mother had the box of candy with her upon her return from Bismarck. A bit early for Christmas, but it's chocolate candy so who am I to quarrel? I dutifully brought the box back to Houston UNOPENED and set it aside for the holiday season. Michael and I finally opened the candy around Thanksgiving, feeling that it was officially Christmastime when Black Friday hit.

Inside, we found the usual assortment of luscious chocolates with a bonus: a layer of chocolate covered potato chips that tasted absolutely delicious. Bob and Lynn hit one out of the park this year! We were happy. We ate the chocolates sparingly so they would last until we left for our Christmas trip.

A week or so after Thanksgiving, we attended a wine and chocolate pairing event sponsored by the Washington University in St. Louis alumni group. The party cost $20 each, which was tending out of our entertainment budget, but we decided to be sports and do it anyway. Good choice as it turned out. The evening, at Chocolat du Monde in Rice Village, delivered the goods.

We started with sparkling wine and champagne truffles, then moved on through three other wine-chocolate partnerships, each one delicious. While we indulged - and the Chocolat du Monde staff were very generous with the wine and candy - we heard about fine chocolates, sampled the mouth-watering canapes, and checked out the candy in the display case and on the store shelves.

Everything looked so good. The candies on the shelves were priced. Their costs were moderate to high, in our opinion, ranging from $12 a pound to $18. More than we usually spent, but this special chocolate was worth it. The chocolates in the case, which we had been eating all evening, were not priced, but I expected them to be about the same.

"Let's get some candy for Christmas gifts," I suggested to Michael. He readily agreed. I particularly wanted to get some really good, liquored up chocolate covered cherries for Nick. I try to send him some C-C-Cs every Christmas, but last year he suggested I get him some with alcohol in the syrup. A novel idea which had never occurred to me. Perhaps this year I would.

"How much are the candies in the cases?" I inquired innocently.

"The Neuhaus are $60 per pound and the Leonidas are $45 per pound," the proprietor told me with a straight face, such a straight face that I didn't have to ask if he was joking.

OMG! I thought. Who pays $60 a pound for chocolate??

That pretty much shot down our plans to buy people candy for Christmas except Nick, for whom I purchased six Cerisse candies by Leonidas, which are brandied chocolate covered cherries individually wrapped. It is his major Christmas gift this year! (Okay, I did buy a small bag of dark chocolate-covered, salted caramel balls for Michael and I, too, but they were from a $13 a pound jar.)

Right before we left, Chocolat du Monde had a raffle and awarded several gifts of wine and chocolate. Michael had the good fortune to win a one pound box of the Neuhaus. Yes, we left with a $60 box of Belgian chocolates to add to the candy from Bob and Lynn.

Last Friday, the Houston Women Writer's Co-operative held its annual holiday party, sharing dinner and exchanging gifts. I received a lovely basket full of - three guesses and the first two don't count - chocolates! In this case, the chocolates were more diverse and included cookies and cocoa as well as actual chocolate candies, but the overall effect was the same. More chocolate!!

Earlier the same day, Michael's office had hosted a holiday luncheon and gift exchange. He came home with - guess - yes, another box of chocolates. This time the loot was Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Wow. We had a lot of chocolate in the house. And mostly a lot of unopened chocolate. We are going away for Christmas this year, so we won't even have a chance to share with guests.

Yesterday, the mail came late and during a pouring rainstorm. Ordinarily, I would have ignored it until the rain died down, but I had to flag down the mail carrier on her trip up the other side of our street. (She had forgotten to take the packages I had scheduled for pick up that day.) While I stood huddled under a practically useless umbrella, I picked up our soggy mail. We received the usual appeals for money, sales pitches, and a large mailing envelope from my brother Bob.


Bob and Lynn sent this box with holiday greetings, so the candy I received in October apparently was not our Christmas candy. While I would never complain about receiving gifts of candy lest they be withheld in future years, Michael and I now do officially have too much chocolate. I guess we'll have to entertain more this year.

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