Continuing this month’s food-related theme — and in honor of National Chocolate Week in the UK — founding contributor Anthony Windram weighs in with some thoughts on the often contentious expat topic of American chocolate.
Though I do, like most people, enjoy a bit of chocolate, I’ve never been a connoisseur of the stuff. Any old rubbish will do for a quick fix, truth be told. I’m not one of those people looking for what percent of cocoa is in a bar. As a six year old, I remember my Nana — God bless her, then in the beginnings of dementia — had bought me a packet of chocolate from the corner shop. I can still recall the packet which, rather tellingly, was taken up with the picture of a happy dog. The chocolate inside was a little more out of the ordinary, a little grittier than normal. But it was chocolate and I was happy sat on the floor of my Nana’s living room munching away while watching TV, my mouth doubtless covered in chocolate. My dad, however, happened to notice the packet of chocolate and asked me if he could see it for a moment. Being a trusting child I made the mistake of giving him the packet of chocolate. I was never to see it again.
Nana, I was later to learn, had inadvertently purchased for me some chocolatey dog treats. However, as I recall they really weren’t too bad. Yes, the texture was more gritty than you’d prefer, but I had been as happy as Larry eating them. That should have been the moment that I realized that I was not, and never would be, a chocolate aficionado. When I was older and the only chocolate that I could find in the house was cooking chocolate, I was more than happy to snack on that, too. Coincidentally, its grittier taste reminded me of the dog treats I’d been given all those years before.
In its own way eating that chocolatey dog treat turned out to be good preparation for living in the US. The European expat now often seems to have strong views about chocolate in the US. Without any prompting they’ll bring the subject up and scrunch their face in disgust. “American chocolate,” they’ll say, spitting out the words like they probably do the chocolate itself, “is disgusting.” And yes, I will admit, that it’s not great. Hershey’s chocolate has a lingering, bitter aftertaste that after eating it I often think I’m suffering from GERD. But you can eat a Milky Way and for the most part it is fine. You’ll possibly suffer from cognitive dissonance from the fact that an American Milky Way is, in fact, like a British Mars bar rather than a British Milky Way bar which is, in turn, like an American Three Musketeers Bar…oh, the confusion! But the chocolate in a Milky Way, while different, isn’t necessarily worse. It’s just in the grand scheme of things in the world of chocolate, American chocolate is the chocolate dog treats my confused Nana bought — and that isn’t something I’m going to complain too much about.
Question: What are your thoughts on American chocolate?
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, part 2 of Joanna Masters-Maggs’ quest to find paradise in Provence.
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