Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Subvert the Script

how are you fine thanks and you
"Hi, how are you?"

"Oh Fine thanks. And you?"


You hear it every day, yes? What the heck is this repetitive script really about? Ah, glad you asked.

It's a tribal affiliation assertion: I'm extending you temporary membership in my tribe. Probably only for this encounter, but who knows.

I'm saying "I see you". Most of us live in a world of way too many people, and that means we have to treat them like trees or rocks because they can't all be human beings. So -- I see you. You're not just a rock.

And it's an initiation protocol. It acknowledges that we're not just walking by but beginning some kind of exchange or transaction between us. We're engaging.

When taken literally the question has complicated ramifications. But it's not a literal question and few people want detailed (or long) answers.

"I didn't sleep at all well and I'm feeling some vague sense of underlying dread or maybe it's existential ennui or maybe indigestion and really is this all there is and I wonder whether I'm getting enough fiber. Thanks for asking."

No, I don't recommend you answer in detail because it breaks the (lightweight) social protocol and, frankly, I've done it, and I can assure you that it doesn't make you popular. Also, it defeats the multiple, socially essential purposes of this ritual.

But yes, also, I am indeed suggestion subversion. Subvert the script in your own head. Listen to yourself say the words. Notice what's really going on.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

A Good Day to Eat Chocolate

I am eating chocolate today. Since I'm a semi-professional (heh) in fine chocolate, what with teaching tasting classes and writing newsletters, Valentine's Day seems a good day to indulge. (Unlike other days. Ha.)

What, you may ask, am I eating? Glad you asked.

Nova Monda's Gold Label. 80% yet powerfully floral with a bite and a coffee and nut tail -- a good wake up chocolate...

Dandelion's Madagascar 70%, which hits me with cherry-berry and carries on for a while, leaving me feeling bright.

Rogue's Hispaniola 70% -- a heavy hitter and not for the faint-hearted. Tones of bitter orange peel, ash, and, sure, licorice I guess (see liner notes). The right kind of bitter, anwyay. I save this bar for special occasions.

And, believe it or not, Amedei's Toscano White, because it was recommended as an exemplar of the breed and I'm trying to understand white. Not sure I get it, even with this sample. Ah well.

Finally, Zotter's Labooko Sheep's Milk, with a whopping 55% chocolate -- we're talking serious milk, folks -- a best-of-breed. The sort of milk that gives lie to the snobbery I used to have about how milk chocolate could never be as good as dark. As this melts oh-so-smoothly in my mouth I'm so very glad to be wrong.

Eat chocolate today, my friends. Yes, do. But go up, up up: find something quality, something extraordinary. Go pay $10/bar -- you are worth it. Think of it as a Valentine's Day gift to you. For the cost of 2 high-end lattes. Toss a few more bucks at the barmaker struggling to bring you the best of Theobroma cacao from the rainforests and jungles of your beautiful planet.

As you unwrap and nibble, think romance: listen to the chocolate. Take your time. Caress with your tongue. Let the flavors roll through your mouth, your mind, your spirit.

Because that's what really good chocolate does.