I have made much of the wonderful specialist shops in the small town of Ludlow in the Shropshire Marches before. One of my favourites is the chocolatier. We can't afford to go in very often, every chocolate, hand-made from the finest ingredients, is priced in the region of a king's ransom, but at Christmas we do; we buy chocolates as presents for others, as gifts to take to dinner parties and even for ourselves. I'd almost be willing to commit a minor crime if you promised to pay me in dark chocolate coated orange peel strips; whoever invented them has my undying gratitude. However, they are very expensive.
It is only a small shop but when you go in your nose is assailed by the aroma of real chocolate, spices, sugar and marzipan confections and standing at the glass topped counter, below which are several shelves of tray upon tray filled with delectable and delicious truffles, many of them laced with alcohol, I
salivate in anticipation.
If I were a dog, I'd slobber and drool.
"Two of this one and two of that and two of those at the back," is how I buy them; Slowly the girl fills a small bag for me. When I get them home they are put at the back of the fridge, well out of the way of any searching fingers. They are exclusively for us, we do not share the ones we buy for ourselves (and don't feel guilty at all) and we don't start eating them until Christmas Eve; not from the bag, mind you, but from a pretty dish. The Japanese tea ceremony has nothing on me and my chocolates!
WARNING - Be careful how much Christmas chocolate you eat!
Chocolate's reputation as an Aphrodisiac originated in South America over one thousand five hundred years ago, where it is known that it was thought to have mystical and aphrodisiac qualities by both the Mayan and Aztec cultures - the Aztec emperor, Monteczuma drank fifty golden goblets of chocolate a day to enhance his sexual prowess, it is said. However, I recently came across this snippet of warning originating in 17th century England:
"The confection made of Cacao called Chocolate or Chocoletto, which may be had in divers places in London at reasonable rates, is of wonderful efficacy for the procreation of children: for it not only vehemently incites to Venus, but causes conception in women . . . . . . and besides that, it preserves health, for it makes such as take it often to become fat and corpulent, fair and amiable."
William Coles Adam in Eden 1657