Since around 2,000BC people have been falling in love with chocolate. That is some long history and today, I’m part of it.
I’m at the chocolate fair in Béziers. There’s a queue outside the exhibition hall and it isn’t full of kids either. Or all females as you might expect. No, there’s grandfathers and bikers in their Harley jackets. There are young families with babes in push chairs. There are teenagers and young lovers with their arms wrapped around one another.
And there’s me. With himself and a house guest from England who is as much into chocolate as she is into wine which makes for a very pleasant time whenever she comes to stay.
The chocolate fête in Béziers now attracts visitors from far and wide. Each year this festival of chocolate temptation grows bigger. Visitors come in their tens of thousands to the two day event. No wonder. As soon as you step inside the magic begins.
It’s the aroma first. Unmistakeable. It hits your senses with all the power of its four thousand year hold over us. I know I’m going to be eating a lot of chocolate today. I might even swoon.
Oh, help! Will I survive this afternoon with so much temptation at arm’s length? I turn aside, but there’s no escape.
When the Spaniards first brought chocolate to Europe in the 1500s, did they know that today in 2013 there’d be a queue of people eager to take their seats and watch professionals molding it, shaping it, colouring it, making dainties and delights enough to make your eyes water and your mouth drool?
On the upper floor of the exhibition halls another demonstration is taking place on the main stage.
Wonder if he’s married? What a lucky girl the wife of a chocolatier must be, huh?
I might have to go and lie down in a darkened room.
But, I survive and the three of us buy enough chocolate to keep us quiet and very happy as we join an ancient lineage: Mayans and Aztecs, the Spaniards who first mixed cocoa beans with vanilla, nutmeg, cloves, allspice and cinnamon, and brought it to Europe; the Dutch and Brazilians and Germans and Venezuelans and on and on all around the world.
Political movements come and go. In the history of humankind, chocolate is a constant. I’m delighted to take my place in its history.
I pop some in. The sensations begin . . .melting . . warming . . coating the tongue . . reaching the back of the throat. . .