I bought a wonderful book recently that's actually been around for several years. It's"The Chocolate Connoisseur" by Chloe Soutre-Roussel, who is, aa you may have guessed, The Chocolate Connoisseur. Ms. Chocolate opens her titillating book with the revelation that she has eaten at least one pound of chocolate every day for over 25 years (31 now if she didn't "tire of it." She has studied and sampled nearly every kind of chocolate in the world. She's a buyer for Fortnum & Mason. a large department store in London specializing in exotic foods.
She notes in her book that The Mayans and Aztecs used chocolate in many forms of their cooking...not just for a treat or dessert as we do today for the most part. I did some further sleuthing and discovered that it has been in use since around 1900 BC.
The Quaker John Cadbury was the first to discover a way to emulsify this delectable food so he could make candy bars from it. While the cocoa bean is still widely grown in Mexico and Guatamala, today 2/3 of all cocoa beans now originate in Africa.
Ms. Doutre-Roussel (we'll call her Chloe for short now) says there has always been a love-hate relationship for chocolate lovers...which must be 99% of us anyway, conservatively speaking of course. People love the stuff but since it's always been thought to make you gain weight, get zits, have migranes, it has a "bad boy" rep as well.
What it is is loaded with antioxidants that fight bad cholesterol (LdL) and help promote good cholesterol (HDL). Chloe adds that a 3,5 oz. dark chocolate bar has twice as many antioxicants as a glass of wine and four times as many as a cup of tea. She notes some of those antioxidants are even good for protecting brain tissue.
Yes, you say, but ask: "Is it an aphrodesiac?" Chloe asserts chocolate "...contains the same mood-lifting chemicals that rush in when we are experiencing feeling of love or lust." Well, there you have it. She notes that this association with love has been around ever since the conquistadors learned Moctesuma ate prodigious amounts of it "allegedly to enhance his sexual powers."
Once word got around Europe with that revelation, chocolate became a favorite not just of royalty but, as you no doubt guessed, also the masses. Today you can buy a 50-cent or $10.00 piece of chocolate and dark chocolate especially is growing in popularity for health (and for love).
What is there about painting, or playing an instrument, dancing, walking the beach, cooking a meal, designing a building, landscaping a yard, writing a play, or any of the myriad things we do to create?
As I noted earlier, I've painted all my life. I began with pastels and when I went to India as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1965 I took a huge set of pastels. There were two other Volunteers already in my assigned city, Indore in the state of Madhya Pradesh. They introduced me to some of their friends, one of whom was Narendra Kumar Singh. Naren and I became fast friends over the next two years.
Naren was a dedicated artist. He painted in both oils and watercolors, When I showed him my pastel set he got very excited; "I've always wanted to try pastels," he said. "You just can't buy them here, at least not a huge set like that." On the spot he made me an offer I couldn't refuse: "You really need to learn to paint in oils. There's so much more depth. I'll provide all your painting materials while your here...paints, brushes, and canvases, if you'll give me your pastel set."
Naren had slides of photos he had taken of some villagers recently. I saw one I really liked, an older man in a yellow turban whcih became my first oil painting; I used just two colors, yellow and blue. I've never sold that painting...
I don't recall how old I was when I discovered there really was no Santa Claus. For most children it's a rude awakening...learning that our make-believe world had floating boundaries that gradually slipped away as we became "big kids".
Judy was the baby in our family, utterly doted on by her three older brothers and Mom...well, with one caveat: Tommy could be a real pill at times. Tommy was a very grown up 6 and proud of it. Judy was just two and really looking forward to havin' Santa drop in that night, havin' a few cookies 'n maybe a cupa java before he went on his merry way. The whole family was having dinner...my older brother Rich was 13, myself at 10, Mom, and Judy. Judy blurted out that she was really hoping for a new doll, or a new some-such ...what it was really isn't important here. Anyway we were all excited that Judy was all lit up like a Christmas tree figuring what she wanted most, with "most" changing every time she thought on it. The more we talked about it, the more exhuberant Judy got, almost jumping up 'n down! Suddenly Mr. Smartypants Tommy puffed up in his "I know sumpin' you don't!" mood, blurts out "Hey...dontcha know...there ain't no Santa Claus!" Those were his exact words, I remember it clear as a bell. Tommy sat there with thet "gotcha" look on his face, cuz of course we had kept him a believer until this past year when one of his smartypants friends clued him in. For a minute we all just sat there lookin' dumbstruck. Then it hit her.
Judi looked at him, then at us, and burst into tears. She looked like Niagara Falls there for a minute. Then the rest of us jumped into action: "Don'tchu believe that," Rich and I hollered. "Tommy is just jealous cuz you're getting all the attention" Now Judy wanted to believe for sure and we could see she just needed some convincin'! Rich, who was already almost man's size, kept Tommy's trap shut by just glarin' at him. Mom calmly stepped in now. She took Judy in her arms 'n said, "Judy, of course there's a Santa Claus." Didn't he come last year?" Judy nodded her head. "And didn't he come the year before?" "Yes," she admitted, by now some hope surgin' in her heart. And then Mom gave her the "Ku de graw" - "And didn't we just visit Santa yesterday at the store?" Mom had her now. "OK then, Tommy's just jealous cuz we're all so excited for you." Then Mom looked at Tommy and said, "Tommy, there is a Santa Claus, isn't there?!" She was smiln' at Tommy but he saw the look in her eyes too, warnin' him he better be good or else.
Well now, Tommy didn't jump offa the turnip truck yesterday, no sirree! He became a believer again right before our eyes (knowin' he was dogmeat if' he didn't see things our way right quick. At first he mumbled something unintelligable but with a "gentle nudge" from Rich he said, "Yeah, I was just jealous, Judy. There's a Santa Claus."