Like most people my first chocolate experience was with a Cadbury's chocolate bar. I remember enjoying the intense sweetness and the tingle of sugar on my tongue. I would try to make the bar last as long as possible and would be severely disappointed when it finished. It wasn't until my early 20's that I started reading and researching about the history of chocolate and that's when my chocolate journey really began.
I blame my chocolate obsession on my mum. As a child I wasn't really allowed sweets and chocolate. I would be THAT child having a tantrum at the supermarket cash desk because my mum wouldn't buy me a chocolate bar. I was totally fascinated by the vast array of chocolates all in their brightly coloured wrappers. When I was a bit older around 6 years old, my mum would take me to my aunt's house and she and my mum would be busy chatting in the kitchen. My eyes would fall on the huge crystal bowl on the dining table filled to the brim with brightly coloured foil wrapped chocolates. They hypnotised me. I just could not draw my eyes away from them. They were so tempting. They looked so delicious. Without any self control I would grab a handful and run up the stairs!
I would run up the stairs to the bathroom and lock the door behind me. I remember clearly sitting on the floor and opening up my hand not knowing or caring, which flavours I had. I felt like a jewel thief. I tore the wrappers off and shovelled the chocolates in my mouth. I remember the mixture of joy and confusion as to why I didn't feel guilty. After all I had stolen! But the chocolates tasted so good the sweetness and array of flavours swept away my guilt. After all, I was deprived. I felt I deserved them. Chocolate HAD to be in my life.
So my obsession with chocolate just kept getting stronger over time. If anyone watches Friends and remembers the scene where Joey doesn't share food...that's me with chocolate! I'll drive you to Scotland, I'll lend you money, I'll do your housework, but I wont share my chocolate!
My first job out of University was at a publishing company situated very close to Oxford Street. I would spend my lunch breaks walking around Selfridge's Food Hall staring at the chocolates. I would spend ages reading the packets, looking at the cocoa content, finding out what part of the world the beans had come from. I quickly realised there was much more to chocolate than Cadbury's.
I found my trips to Harrods and Selfridges Food Halls increasing. I moved on from just staring longingly into the glass counters, observing each chocolate range like designer jewellery. I started to make purchases.
I never forgot the first chocolate I bought. It was a Pierre Marcolini milk chocolate bonbon. It was presented to me in a little red box like a diamond ring. The box was placed in a branded paper bag with rope handles. I was utterly blown away. This single chocolate cost me £6.00. I remember stepping out of the shop onto the bustling street and reaching my hand into the bag pulling the box out to look at it once again. There was no way I was going to wait to get it home to eat it. I had to have it at that moment. I ate the chocolate in the doorway of the shop and with each bite the noise of the city fell away. It was my very own indulgent moment.
Pierre Marcolini Chocolates: https://eu.marcolini.com/en/product-category/boxes-of-chocolates/
Harrods Food Hall: https://www.harrods.com/en-us/departments/harrods-food-halls
Selfridges Food Hall: https://www.selfridges.com/GB/en/cat/foodhall/food/