Books by Susan M Phillips
Blogs by Susan M Phillips
2/21/2008 3:10:53 AM
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Have you ever seen chocolate liquor? It's one of life's little ironies.
It's a funny thing, this distinction between alcohol and "soft", between solid and liquid and the greatest contradiction of all is the subject of my musings at the moment.
Perhaps I should be thinking on weightier matters - we lost a good friend this week and attended his funeral. It was a very British affair, unostentatious and no family member eulogising the dear departed. It was also very moving, dispite its great simplicity. A couple of hymns, a couple of prayers and a long sermon from a vicar who was a great deal older than Ken, whose funeral he was conducting.
It was a quite sermon. No fire and brimstone here in the leafy Warwickshire countryside, but much to ponder. He talked of life, love and struggle. Of laughter and tears, of hard work to make ends meet, of fun and of fishing. Ken was a very keen angler in his latter years, taking early retirement at the behest of Meg, the woman he loved, because she told him it would do him good. From then on she found herself playing second fiddle to a fishing rod, running him from pond to canal in her little green car. He smiled more than he frowned in those last years. Laughed and, when he cried, generally cried tears of laughter. Meg laughed with him - and at him at times He caught some good fish and got ribbed by his friends when he pulled out a tiddler or fell in the water.
The day after the funeral Meg came over for a chat, her face crumpled in grief and anger. A lot of people get angry when someone they love dies, it seems to be a natural part of the grieving process and so we sat her down with a cup of tea and began to chat.
As we talked she poured out her anger and then we remembered the funny times, like when Ken spent the day fishing in pouring rain and refused to come home. Meg called his mobile phone hourly to ask if he wanted picking up, but each time he said he was fine and dry under his waterproofs. Finally she went up to the lake and demanded he come home and he had to admit the reason for his odd fondness for the rain: one of his fishing rods had developed a fault. He could not break it down to pack away and did not much want to carry twelve foot of carbon fibre home in heavy weather. Meg had a go and also failed and so they travelled home in her little car with the sun roof wide open and the rod, still with line, hook, and float attached, sticking out of the top and the rain pouring in on the two of them. They found it funny at the time and Meg found it funny again as she sipped her tea. Tears of laughter appeared once more in her sad eyes and her back straightened a little. She left smiling, still with an aching heart, but with the knowledge that the fun she and Ken had enjoyed would live on with her.
Chocolate liquor - that's another thing that has two aspects. It sounds like an alcoholic drink, yet it's actually solid and entirely alcohol free. You may have seen chocolate bars marked with the percentage of cocoa solids they contain. The highest generally available is around 85%. For my purposes I need 100%, which means no sugar, no milk, not even a waft of vanilla permeating the pure chocolate.
Why; I hear you ask. Why 100% chocolate that's bitter and harsh and a long way from the delicious sweet confection most people enjoy. The answer is that I don't want it for enjoyment, but for health. Another of life's little ironies is that, whilst the average bar of chocolate is pretty bad for you, pure chocolate has recognised health benefits, especially for people like me who live with ME/CFS, an inconvenient illness that makes me feel as if I'd been transplanted to a planet with much stronger gravity. Everything is hard work and my stamina is limited. When I eat chocolate, the gravitational pull of the earth reduces enough for me to have a bit of a life and even to get the kitchen tidied up a little. Ordinary choc, though, is not much use as it makes me fat and contains additives that counteract the main ingredient's beneficial effects, sometimes overwhelming them entirely and making me feel worse, so I've had to become an avid label reader.
I've looked for what I need in shops and on the internet and had limited success. Hotel Chocolat supply a truly delicious 100% bar at a truly worrying price. It works well, but the expense means I can only buy a bar now and again and have to settle for a less expensive, less healthy brand for everyday. What I didn't know was that the correct title for 100% chocolate is - have you guessed - chocolate liquor. I don't know why it's called that, but once I found out, I managed to get somewhere with my chocoquest and have located a supplier who can help me, so now I can get back to eating what used to be on the forbidden list and improve my health. Another big benefit is that I'm buying organic, from an environmentally aware fair trade supplier.
It's all good.
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