Adult Picky Eaters UK

For Picky-Eating Adults in the UK and worldwide

Chocolate I March 18, 2008

Filed under: Chocolate,Personal Stories — Claire @ 10:44 pm

Chocolate is one of my very most favourite and stalwart foodstuffs.  I can’t be exactly sure, but I don’t think I have lived a single day of my adult life without eating chocolate.  That is chocolate as in the substance, not the flavouring, though I’ve been known to appreciate that too 🙂  It is so central to me, I can’t believe I haven’t posted on it before.  And it is so dear to me, I think it warrants more than one post.  So here is Part I:

When I was born, the first thing my mother did was eat a bar of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk, thereby entering chocolate into the equation of my very first feed.  Whether this is relevant or not is anybody’s guess, but so goes the folklore of my story.

When I began refusing food, there was one thing I would eat.  Heinz Chocolate Pudding.  In difficult times, I have tried eating this as an adult, and let me tell you, it is rank.  But it was the only baby food I could be persuaded to eat at the time.  As a result of this, I think I might have been fed rather a lot of the stuff over my first three or four years. 

But the thing is, as portion sizes increased with my age, I came up against what I call the Excessive Texture Problem.  I cannot eat large amounts of one soft texture without other stuff to go with it.  I cannot swallow it after a certain point, it makes me gag.  And so, kindly well-meaning people would present me with an adult chocolate mouse, thinking they were doing me a great kindness, but actually filling me with dread. 

Because it’s one thing to refuse foods that people know you don’t eat, but how to turn down something that they’ve made for you especially, and that they’ve been told is the one thing you will eat?  Even a four-year-old knows that’ll look inconsistent, illogical and petulant.  At that point, I stopped eating it entirely, ditto for chocolate Angel Delight.  It is only in the last few years that I have been able to broach an adult chocolate mousse, and only then by pretending it is cake.

Around the age of three, I one day walked into the kitchen where my mother was eating something I’d never seen before.  I asked her what it was, and she said it was Chocolate Spread on Ryvita, and did I want some?  Well, that was totally yummy.  In those days (1977), Cadbury made the most wonderful chocolate spread.  It came in a round white margarine-type pot, with orange swirls on it, and the stuff itself was shiny, black and treacly. In sandwiches, on thin white sproingy bread, it was fucking delicious.  I’m sorry for the f-word, but that’s the only way to describe my nostalgia for it, and my sense of loss that they do not make the stuff anymore.

The world can seem like a treacherous place if you have an SED.  Around the age of 7, I was playing at a friend’s house, and her mum asked me if I like chocolate spread.  Assuming she was referring to the Cadbury’s stuff, I said yes.  I can only say I was horrified when we sat down to the results of my affirmative response.  It was sheets and sheets of brown bread, spread with some sort of pale simulacrum of what I would have called chocolate spread.  Yes, it was that devil’s food, Nutella.  I had to eat it, but it made me want to vom.  It was a miserable struggle to get through an acceptable amount of it. 

What the fuck is wrong with plain old chocolate spread?  To the point where you can’t buy it anymore?  Cadbury stopped making chocolate spread at all for most of the eighties (I know, because I made enquiries), and then they introduced a pale, Nutella-esque version, for which I am supposed to be grateful, I guess, but it simply is not the same stuff at all.  I try to pretend to myself that it is, but the only thing it’s good for really is on pancakes.

Around the same time, I one day was looked after for some hours by a lady across the road whose children were older than me.  When I came in from playing in their wicked garden, the mother told me that her eldest daughter (aged 13, but seeming to me like a very sophisticated giant) had made some brownies, and did I want one.  Well, in the same way that you can tell by looking, that Nutella’s gonna make you want to hurl, you know straight away that anything called “brownies” can not be good.  When I saw them, however, they looked like they could be a sort of cake, and when she mentioned the word chocolate, I figured I’d give one a go.  Again:  it was fucking delicious, and remains one of my very most favourite things to this day – if done correctly of course: some people and places put nuts in them and all sorts.  And some places call it a brownie, when actually it’s a cake, and a rubbish one at that.

As a result of my liking for many things chocolate, an outside observer might be forgiven for assuming that I will like all things chocolate.  Not so.  Some chocolate cake is good, and some bad.  Every bit as bad as a non-food.  Which is unusual for me.  Mostly, I am prepared to overlook quality as long as the food in question is in my “edible” category.  I will not complain on the whole if things are cooked or made badly.  I will just be grateful that they are not in one of my Forbidden Food categories.  But not chocolate things.  If you go to France, you will know that some crepes au chocolate are fantastic, but some are totally revolting, and make you wish you’d never been born. 

It’s tough out there, you know?  You can’t just order something chocolate and know it will be nice.  There’s always that chance that it will not only be not nice, but will be actively revolting instead.

Similarly, I will never eat a cheesecake, even if it does have chocolate in the name.  Chocolate mousse, I’ll avoid if at all possible.  And a black-forest gateau doesn’t usually work for me either.  For chocolate cake, I’d say you want a middle price-bracket.  Anything too up-market, or from a fancy patisserie will tend to be trying too hard, and will consequently be yuck.

For me, the domain of chocolate is like a microcosm of the broader food world.  Seemingly without rhyme or reason, certain subsets of it are acceptable to me, while others are totally verboten.  I can’t explain it to someone, or tell them the rules.  I don’t know how I know by looking or thinking what is going to be disgusting to me, but I certainly do know it, that much is certain.  On top of this complexity is a certain degree of fluidity in my tastes over time.  Chocolate things can go in and out of favour at the drop of a hat.  Like I say, it’s tricky.

This post is inspired by Dan over at ChocEat.  If you haven’t checked his blog already, you should do.


4 Responses to “Chocolate I”

  1. Jack Says:

    I have similar feelings for chocolate, but here in the states have never come across a chocolate spread.
    I think that’s probably a good thing as I’m almost ‘normal” when it comes to chocolate.
    I’m not a big fan of chocolate mousse either; it’s just too fancy for my taste.

    I do recall at an early age my mother cooking some sort of “instant” pudding that when left alone in the refrigerator, over time would get a thick hardened top.
    Oh wow, were those pudding tops good, it was always a disappointment when the pudding was fresh and even (yuk) warm like the normal people enjoy.
    Sadley todays new pudding will never get a hard pudding top no matter how many years it ages in the fridge….

    Years ago when stationed overseas in the Army my sisters would send “care packages” with rugged little allunimum cans of chocolate puddings. It started a rage where several GI’s asked for the same and we became ‘Puddin Freaks” always carrying a spoon in our jungle fatigues, good times.

    Like the brownies, I never cared for it when someone tries to jazz up pudding with nuts, although I like nuts, I prefer to keep my foods simple and segregated.

    As an adult I’m no longer enjoy milk chocolate but love the semi-sweet or whatever it is called dark chocolate.
    I also love a good quality white chocolate, the cheap white stuff is like wax, but I think most people feel that way.

    You mentioned Cadbury’s – at Easter time my children loved those Cadbury’s Eggs but I could never stand the site of them.
    Split open I thought they were gross and was always expecting to see a half developed baby chick fall out.
    Once again complex stuff…

    Happy Easter.

  2. Methuseleh Says:

    I know what you mean; I have had people make things especially for me, but still it doesn’t work out for me.

    One time I was at a friend’s house and I told them I was a very picky eater, but one of the things I could eat was Kraft mac and cheese. Somehow the Kraft got left out somewhere, and I was served mac and cheese. It was very hard for me to get it down without appearing to gag, but I did manage it without anybody noticing how hard it was for me. I did only eat about half the bowl, said I was “full.” *cough to cover stomach growl*
    Man, it took so much concentration and will power!

  3. Jack Says:

    There is nothing worse than those situations where someone prepares “something special that you will like”….
    First- it embarasses me with the attention and a spotlight to my problem. I rather quitetly deal with your meal it in my own ways.
    Second – the odds of them makeing something I actually enjoy is extremely rare. I’m begging you please don’t try.

    Third – I really don’t want to be at your table and don’t understand why in this day and age, (yes, I know about various cultures and our caveman roots) why all social gatherings have to be centered around food…..

  4. Rafael Nunes Says:

    How can you not like Nutella?? I love it *-* It’s one of my favorite food to eat with bread.

    I don’t have problems when it comes to chocolate, I usually like all kinds of them, except the very cheap ones that don’t taste like chocolate at all, those make me want to throw up and swear at the person responsible for the store that sells it.

    I’m from Brazil and if there’s one thing I don’t understand in the North American culture, it is peanut butter. I can only eat one slice of bread with it on without feeling sick, it easily makes me nausated >.<

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