Sunday, July 24, 2011

What you don't know won't hurt you...?

It is interesting how our palate can change over time as we become more aware, more knowlegeable and more exposed to certain foods.  For example, over the last 10 years, since I graduated from university and have spent much of my free time learning about  - and tasting - chocolate, I have developed an awareness of the variety of ways chocolate can, and should, taste.  Previous to that, I just ate any chocolate in any form and loved it.  If it had been melted in the sun, then solidified again, I never seemed to notice the change in texture and flavour from improperly storing it. 

I had not thought about this until I recently asked a teenager to taste two different 70% dark chocolate bars.  One of these chocolate bars had been improperly stored in direct sunlight in the small gourmet food store that I bought it from, so it was chalky with the tell-tale white film on the outside, tough to bite through and lacked any ability to melt in your mouth.  The other bar was shiny, had a nice snap and melted deliciously in the mouth, but was definitively more bitter because it had small pieces of cacao nibs in it.  The youth was not used to bitter chocolate, and primarily eats milk chocolate.  So when I asked her which one she liked better, she chose the dark chocolate that had been improperly stored because it tasted sweeter.  This caused me to stop and consider myself as a teenager and I realized that, although I would never pick that chocolate bar over the other now, I certainly would have made the same choice when I was a teenager and chosen the chalky-but-sweet chocolate bar. 

I envy the teenager in many ways. Sometimes I wish I had not gained all this knowledge of chocolate over the years so I could just happily enjoy a KitKat bar now, or any kind of chocolate with hydrogenated oils in the truffle centre, or simply enjoy some plain dark chocolate with an unknown bean source.  However, the knowledge that I have sought and gained has led me to a whole new world of chocolate that I might never have explored, and caused me to become addicted to tasting new and innovative flavours, while staying true to my belief that chocolate should be made from natural ingredients.  

So although I am happy that I have learned so much about chocolate over the years, I also believe (in a way) that what you don't know, won't hurt you.

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