The Don’ts of Chocolate Tasting (this was written on the C-Spot)
We’re often asked to lead formal tastings which we conduct on special occasions.
Most of these tastings affairs are, bluntly, just a ‘tarding up of the consumer: “now here’s how you eat chocolate: first, look at it by opening your eyes; second, smell it by breathing in thru your nose; third, listen to it by perking up your ears; next, bite it…” ad nauseam. People need nanny-style potty training like the Pentagon needs another explosive device.
Chocolate is a direct hit – it’s an easy to “get”.
But since you asked, here are a few quick “don’ts”.
Instead turn off your internal chatter & let the melt flow into an effortless attention that will freely interpret & translate a bar’s manifold flavors, without work, as relaxation sets in, taking on a meditative-trance aspect akin to mushin no shin, the Zen expression for “zoned”. That’s what the chocolate melt—literally / physically, figuratively / metaphorically— is all about.
Take a deep breath, inhale the perfumes & harmonize with the bar like that bird clasped in the hand—too loose it flies away, too tight, you’ll crush it.
…do as you’re told.
Some proscribe chewing, for instance. Chew or let it melt on your tongue? Consider both – between alternate tastings or even together—because both have their strengths &, moreover, each reveals a different side of the flavor.
Chocolate, after all, embodies a full sensory experience—often an overload—engendering intimacy. So whatever feels good… use your body intelligence. Besides, it’s your chocolate.
…wait for the right moment.
Some cocoa gurus proclaim that certain times of the day are optimal for critical tastings.
Others say only after you’ve cleared the palate with some kind of slimey gruel or a proper hi-colonic (k, we jest on that one).
Our take: People link chocolate to sex since it carries that oozy body-melt & contains trace amounts of aphrodisiacs (such as PEA – phenylethylamine, the “Love Chemical”, an adrenal-related compound that is also naturally created within the hypothalamus of the brain & is released to flood the brain during orgasm, producing that warm glow).
Whether morning or midnight, sex can be good any time. The outdoor variety, for instance, under the midday sun when the senses are fully awakened.
Spontaneity… whenever the moment seizes & moves, carpe chocolatum, in sync with Roberta Flack’s “that’s the time, I feel like makin’…”