As February draws to a close, we reflect on something we truly love...chocolate!
Here we are, perched on the cusp of spring in Ontario, at the end of one of the mildest Februarys ever. I’m sure Old Man Winter has one more trick for us but I’ll say Happy Spring anyway. While I’m eager to say goodbye to February and winter’s last Hurrah, I will be sorry to say goodbye to chocolate. Wait! Chocolate? Goodbye? Those two words should never be together in one sentence, should they?
Valentine’s Day – as significant as it is to romance writers and lovers in general – may be the acme of a post-Christmas chocolate blitz but it’s also a smooth segue into Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and any other special occasion that can conveniently be used as an excuse to buy and eat chocolate. Not that we chocolate addicts need an excuse. My personal rationale for indulging is to give my body much needed antioxidants and my energy levels a dopamine boost.
And of course, there’s the rumor that the glorious cacao bean is an amazing aphrodisiac. Ooops, I have a mental image of my daughters covering their ears and crying, Too much information!
Okay, back to you, Lee. Any favorites? Where and when do you like to indulge? In secret or public? Give us the reveal!
February had a wintery start here on Canada’s west coast but it didn’t last long. Now the snow drops and crocuses are blooming, as are the pansies I planted last fall, and just today I noticed that my neighbor’s camellia is covered in blossoms.
As for chocolate, well, it’s always in season! I keep a bar of dark chocolate in my desk drawer and whenever I feel the need for an energy boost, I treat myself to a square. A friend of mine can’t understand how I avoid eating the whole bar in one sitting but for me, chocolate is something to be savored.
On February 13th, I took this photograph at one of my favorite chocolate shops as they prepared for Valentine’s Day. As you can see, they were expecting a lot of customers, and what better way to keep hoards of chocolate-buying lovers under control than to have them queue up down the middle of the mall?
|Looking for some love? Please line up here!|
Also according to Wikipedia, World Chocolate Day, held on July 7th, 2017, will mark 467 years since Europeans were introduced to chocolate. To make up for already having several chocolate days of their own, Americans celebrate Chocolate Ice Cream Day on July 7th. A brilliant compromise, don’t you think?
Whew! I see that I no longer need to search for excuses to indulge myself, Lee, with this impressive summary of official chocolate celebrations. It’s ironic that National Chocolate Day is held on October 28. I’m suspecting a sneaky corporate strategy to warm us all up—especially kids—for the “Big Rock Candy Mountain” three days later!
Although Europeans have been drinking cocoa and eating chocolate for 467 years, the ancient Mayans used the cacao bean in religious ceremonies hundreds of years earlier. Last year I spent a month in the Yucatan and visited the Mayan archeological site at Uxma. Right across the road from the site entrance was a place enticingly called “Choco-Story.” We hesitated at the inauspicious name, thinking it might be the kind of tourist trap we usually avoid. But what a surprise! Beautiful botanical gardens, with cacao trees of course, a re-created Mayan religion cocoa ceremony and a demonstration of ancient cocoa making and drinking the Mayan way—spiced without sugar. I highly recommend the place.
Preparing to make cocoa the Mayan way.
Preparing to make cocoa the Mayan way.
I love your Mayan cocoa photos, Janice! Thank you so much for sharing them. There’s an exotic, earthy quality there that is perfectly paired with chocolate.
And it’s so interesting that you mention dark chocolate with caramel. My two favorite chocolate shops here in Victoria make pink Himalayan-salted dark chocolate-covered caramels. Purdy’s Chocolates is pictured above. And here's Roger’s Chocolates is my other indulgent go-to.
|Roger's Chocolates ~ a go-to for Victorians and tourists alike.|
Janice and Lee:
And since it’s not possible to have enough chocolate—who knew there’s a chocolate-flavored red wine? We didn’t, but we’ll happily raise a glass to our favorite indulgence!
|Chocolate Shop ~ vinted and bottled by Chocolate Shop Wine, Caldwell, Idaho|
Allergic to chocolate? Not a fan? We’re so sorry, but we hope you’ll share your favorite non-chocolate treat.
Until next time,
Janice and Lee
For Love of a Dog
Harlequin Heartwarming, September 2017
His Best Friend's Wife
Harlequin Heartwarming, January 2017