Vanilla over cocoa. Blondies over brownies. Vanilla cake over chocolate. Oatmeal raisin over chocolate chip. I’m just not a chocolate person, and apparently, that’s strange.
Somehow, over the course of human evolution, it has become bizarre for a person not to like chocolate. This aspect of my likes and dislikes sets me (and others of the same opinion) apart, as if millions of years ago, distaste for chocolate would have led us along the path to apes and monkeys, rather than Homo sapiens. We’re a small group, but we’re passionate. First choice: not chocolate. Case closed.
I wish fine restaurants would respect our minority. On a recent vacation, my family chose to dine at one of the fine restaurants in town. The appetizer and entrée menus were marvelous, offering options for all palettes. Caesar and house salad. Gazpacho and French onion soup. Mahi mahi and filet mignon. A wine list to dazzle the most selective connoisseurs. Yet the dessert menu fell short, much to my personal disappointment. My eyes scanned the list, taking in the exquisiteness of each dish: dark chocolate crème brulee, sampler of various truffles, chocolate mousse, and lime sorbet. Really? My only non-chocolate option was lime sorbet? I chose the last item on the menu, and I’m not quite sure whether I did this because it was what I wanted to eat, or for reasons more meaningful: to support those people who aren’t satisfied with chocolate.
It’s not about wanting the healthier option; it’s about wanting a food choice with color and bursts of flavor. It’s about wanting options which don’t fit under the umbrella category of “chocolate.” Take, for instance, the following:
Chocolate covered strawberries. I don’t get them. While I completely appreciate the adorable patterns chocolatiers and bakers create atop these succulent berries (drizzled dark chocolate atop white, tuxedo patterns made of multiple chocolate types), count me out. I can’t help but wonder what compels some people to coat a perfectly delicious red strawberry in a brown shell, which both melts on your fingertips and breaks apart the moment you bite into the dessert—only to land on your shirt or pants, which you recently cleaned, of course. The strawberry alone would be just perfect.
Now don’t get me wrong— you’ll find me eating chocolate every now and then, but as result of a craving, not an obsession. (And plus, instant hot chocolate doesn’t count). Ladies: you’ll hear me on this. Chocolate absolutely constitutes its own food group. However, when I want to eat chocolate, I want to be eating chocolate . . . not a fluffy cake with an artificial taste only remotely reminiscent of cocoa. I want a fantastic square of perfectly smooth dark chocolate. Don’t hide a berry within its depths or add essence of coffee or mint. Keep things simple. However, given the option, my loyalties lie with all things not cocoa-related.
Finally, a message to all chefs: challenge yourselves to create gourmet dessert not made of chocolate. Or at the very least, please offer lime sorbet on your menu. It might not compare to your dark chocolate crème brulee, but it doesn’t contain chocolate, and that alone is reason for ordering it.
Wednesday, March 4, 2009