Monday, June 20, 2016

Books & Chocolate: Part 4

This is Part 4 (click here to read Part 3) of a piece that I wrote for my Food Writing class in college. I brought together two of my interests, books and chocolate of course, in pairings that explained the different types of things I enjoy out of each--distinct from statements of "better" or "worse." I've decided to post it in portions; here are the seventh and eight pairings. 

Some things that come from the familiar place of memory take longer to define as special. A not so atypical American, I grew up around Hershey's bars, Kit Kats, Reese's Cups, Snickers bars, and Butterfingers. But it wasn't until I began making friends with the couture chocolate brand that I wanted to have ties to this Old World, too; I have no desire to be a chocolate snob, so I needed to keep friendships in all the categories. Kit Kats may be far from the luxurious and sensual sides of chocolate, and may not even contain the highest quality chocolate or wafers. But those shiny, red packages are hard to ignore. While a solid chocolate can be defined by the quality of the "snap" it makes when broken, Kit Kats have their own version of the sound, which comes accompanied by the primal pleasure of personally shattering the neat row of wafers. The luster of the chocolate coating each one is dull, and the buttery Hershey's aroma, also belonging to many other candies, does not interest me. But I do enjoy wafers. The Kit Kat's crunch is more hollow and less crumbly than some, with the chocolate adding the necessary element of softness to the whole. Contentedly, I ignore imperfections, thinking only about the balance that even Hershey's chocolate, layered just thick enough, adds to the wafer layers. A condescending chocolate connoisseur may overlook things like Kit Kats, but I do not.

Imperfections do not have to ruin a personal experience, and outside criticism does not have to affect my personal opinion. Driven by curiosity, I picked up Twilight a couple of weeks before the first movie was released; completely alone in my reading experience and not discussing anything until after I was done, I finished the series quickly and I connected with it. I connected with its peculiar tone, the things of affection toward nature, and the general optimism of the pages. Some people like to look for "literary elements" in Twilight; others love to condemn it--indeed, they seem to talk about it as much as the people who actually like it. But I care to do neither. I just like to pretend I am the only person who knows about this book and read it in the same bubble I started in. It's my Kit Kat; it's one of the handful of modern books I very much like, and it's the one I will continue to like even if everyone else stops. If a trend began to dip Kit Kats in Nutella before eating them, I would probably try it along with the crowd. But when the trend ended and most people abandoned their Kit Kats, still I would remain with mine. If something truly does act as a simple pleasure, it will remain such.

What may be easy to forget is that not everything that is exactly opposite to candy bars and popular novels is going to be enjoyable for most people. While the first 100% cacao bar, which I will address in more detail later, I tasted was rather nice, the second was not. It was shocking. It was frightening. It was bitter. It was Bonnat's 100% bar. Just previously, I had had their 75% Trinite, which was on the bitter side, but did not cross over into the inedible. The 100% did. A note of spiciness began as it melted and continued to build more and more intensity. Though I Googled the bar to read comments about it and found that there are indeed some human species who enjoy it, I was not one of these. My stung mouth only wanted to cover up the flavor with something else. An expensive bar this certainly had been, but I either gave it away or put it in a recipe.

That experience taught me of diversity and personal preference, which are two things that, as an English Literature major, I cannot forget. There are many things I read for classes that I do not personally like, like The Canterbury Tales. Although I only read three sections of it, I have no desire to read more. The language tends to be too distant and the setting is far away from my professed favorite, the nineteenth century. Add that I also had to read "The Wife of Bath" in untranslated Middle English; while this was admittedly less painful than eating two pieces of the Bonnet bar, still I do not plan to read the entire book this way. I will leave that adventure to others.

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