Who doesn’t love chocolate?
Currently, on my bedside table, I have a bar of unopened, fancy chocolate from Cost Plus World Market. Hint: If you want extremely fancy chocolate at reasonable prices, then go there. When I go there, it feels like I’m living my dream life, because I can afford everything I put into my basket gladly, happily, easily. I’m living large in chocolate. This fancy bar that should, by all counts, cost $10? It’s $3. Or $2-something, and it’s currently a dark chocolate with matcha green tea filling and it’s all mine. Last time it was a fig bourbon filling, I think, and it was soooooo good. OK, maybe fig pomegranate. Bourbon would be better. So “go to there,” and get thee something fancy and feel like a queen. Feel alive.
Anyways, so that’s how I feel about fancy things, like nice chocolates and soaps.
Today I want to take you to Eurochocolate. Because I’ve been there. I don’t know when I’ll actually ever be back, and that’s a tragedy. But here, here, here in this blog… we’re suddenly, marvelously, miraculously THERE. I’ll tell you all about it.
We’re in a medieval city. Actually, we’re in the city center, surrounded by stone. The ground is cobblestone. We’re in an open space, like being in a basketball court, or a slightly larger field, and all around us are European apartment buildings. That means that they have pretty windows and, hanging in them, dramatically blue drapes and statues, and when you look up, you can see murals on the ceilings. There’s a large fountain in the square and one side is taken over by cascading stone steps that lead to a Cathedral’s massive front doors. It towers over everything, including the fountain, which is a series of saints and apostles, I think, scowling at everyone having fun and eating chocolate.
It’s dark. Dark because it’s fall. Dark because it’s overcast. Dark because it’s around 6 p.m. But the air is festive. Wires are hung from building to building, so they arch over the long promenade, and white lights dangle from them. Soon, they’ll hold lighted up white snowflakes, giant bows, bells, Christmas-y things. From the city loudspeakers play songs about chocolate. Over and over and over again, and you don’t mind. Every bakery is offering famous, thick sipping chocolate. It’s like… warm chocolate pudding in a hot, paper cup. And the entire square is filled with small vendors, each one with their own tables, their tents, and their large displays of chocolate goods for you to taste and try and eat.
The crowd is thick, of course. And there are a lot of Germans. So many that it’s easy for you to be mistaken for one, if you look like me. Some vendors speak to you in German, and you reply back in Italian, and they’re surprised. On their tables are playing cards made of chocolate (a quarter-inch thick), chocolate bells, balls, bunnies, cups, bars with rose petals and dried cherries gently laid over their tops. Marbling with whites and pinks and greens. It’s all so fancy. All so delicious. All so fun.
We get hot chocolates, the husband and I, and also roasted chestnuts, which are buttery and hot and mmmmmm good. We’re served them in little paper pocket bowls. Then we go table to table, walking at least a half-mile, it feels like, sampling the wares. And, dotted in the middle of the streets, are SCULPTORS, sculpting statues from giant chocolate blocks. We see this but don’t stop, as they’re surrounded by people who want the free chippings from their work. People in black scoop them up into small, white paper bags and hand them out to eager viewers. Too many eager viewers. I’ve had them before, too–kind of cheap chocolate. The fun is the receiving, but not particularly in taste. No, taste is reserved for money. Which we spend well during Eurochocolate.
My favorites are the brandies and cordials encased in chocolate. I buy a pear brandy chocolate ball set from Switzerland, sold to me by an old man whose face crinkles when he smiles. He just nods at me and says, “ten euro,” in English. Guess he knows I’m definitely not Italian (or German? darn). The husband is interested in all the things, and looks at some chocolate marionette dolls, which are wrapped in beautifully painted (painted? Printed?) foil from France, with real doll hair and paper clothes. He’s thinking of his mother, and if he can buy her one as a present for Christmas, probably. He reaches for his wallet with one hand and a brunette doll with another, while the gal, in a purple print dress and long, grey sweater that practically envelopes her, reaches for a pastel-pink paper box.
The husband likes saying, “I don’t like chocolate,” over and over again and, as we talk about Eurochocolate in the future, he’ll revel in this tasty bit of information. “I don’t even like chocolate,” “there’s nothing for me there,” “I don’t like chocolate.” Yes. I know it’s also fun to say and espouse, so I acquiesce; no complaints. He doesn’t like chocolate.
But I do.
I love chocolate. The beauty of it. The beauty of anything made with love and decor. Abundance. Beauty. That tastes wonderful, too. And chocolate usually does.
Our bags overfloweth with gifts for Christmas. A small chocolate for the baby. One for the Nanny. One for the everyone we know and love and remembered today, and lots of coins and cocoa jewels for stocking stuffers.
Eurochocolate. I’m there now, in my mind, in my imagination. Thanks for going with me.
The babe is asleep and I gently, carefully, clipped his nails. My house is a mess. A never-ending wonder of mess and I wonder if I’ll ever catch up. The husband is working in the yard, making things, making our lives better. I’ll be in here cleaning for the next hour or afternoon, another afternoon gone to almost nothing. To progress for nothing. And now, while the baby sleeps and before I dedicate this afternoon to not going to the museum or taking hikes or doing anything that feeds the soul, I got to pretend and go, in my imagination, to Perugia Italia. Grazie.