Sunday, February 10, 2013

For the Love of Chocolate

Everyone knows that chocolate is the stuff of Gods--that it's an aphrodisiac, and all that. Yadda, yadda, yadda. I'm not revealing anything new here.

What I *am* interested in, is digging just a little deeper to find the romance of chocolate. In other words, uncovering (or revisiting) some of the stories that feature the more mystical, magical, and romantical (yes, it's a made-up word) side of chocolate, along with it's sexy side.

Let's start with a few of my favorite books and films. Lunch in Paris: a Love Story with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard not only combines my adoration of chocolate with Paris, and most all things French, but it's her unexpected love affair with her husband, as well as with life in France and French cooking. The first chapter is a delight, in which she recounts how she meets said husband as a new expat in Paris, and--here comes "sexy"---sleeps with him on their first date, which I believe was lunch! Then it goes on to talk about one of their favorite restaurants, and how she discovered a Death by Chocolate dessert there.  And then, Voila--it ends with the recipe, along with every subsequent chapter. Even more splendid, she also has a matching blog in which she shares more delectable recipes and stories.

Now, who can forget Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel? I believe it was the little hens or quail with rose petals and chocolate that had the whole family weeping in that story. The film Chocolat, well that's self-explanatory. Of course Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp hook up, but there's also the way the Mexican spiced chocolate touches Judi Dench's soul, and the way Alfred Molina succumbs to his own desire for the stuff and collapses in the shop window after an overdose, that make the film more meaningful.

I'm not just talking out of school, here; I don't need to rely solely on the magic of publishing and filmmaking to understand how romantic chocolate is. My husband and I were already engaged when I baked him a chocolate cake for his birthday.  But this cake was special, because we were living on opposite coasts at the time. I doctored the recipe from The Forrest Gump chocolate cookbook to include even more chocolate than originally called for.  I baked it in a metalic pan, and, along with a few pieces of mail, the box weighed eight pounds. I shipped it next day air. Now, we were already engaged, but I'm convinced this helped seal the deal.

About 7 years ago, he returned the favor by learning to bake  a sinfully delicious triple-layer chocolate truffle cake from scratch. I demand it each year for my birthday. And some other odd times during the year.

Now, I'm not one to kiss and tell, but I haven't forgotten about the sexy side of things here. Let's just say that chocolate body paint is a lot of fun!

So, if for some unknown reason you find yourself dwelling on chocolate this week---oh, wait, is there some pagan holiday coming up?---I say think outside the heart-shaped boxes, even the ones with cheap jewelry nestled inside. Think sexy and sweet, and find your own brand of romance. But most of all, don't just limit your love for each other--and for chocolate---to one day a year. Chocolate, like love, should be experienced 365 days a year, at least for a romance writer!