Yesterday, Bill got a very interesting video from his younger daughter, and it led to a discussion that I think will open new doors of discovery. Younger daughter, who is currently expecting her latest baby, said that she had a craving for hot cocoa the other day. She said she doesn’t often eat chocolate or drink hot cocoa because chocolate seems to upset her stomach and give her a headache. Her husband has the same complaint. However, because she’s pregnant right now, and has some intense cravings for certain foods, she decided to risk the discomfort.
The only problem was, she didn’t have enough cocoa powder. Like a lot of Americans, she’d had good old fashioned American cocoa powder in her cupboard. She doesn’t use it very often, though, because chocolate stuff seems to make her feel ill. So she only uses cocoa every once in a great while, and she’d forgotten to buy more the last time she’d used it for something.
Last year, when Bill and I went to Antwerp, Belgium, for my birthday, we stopped by a Belgian chocolatier and bought some stuff for younger daughter and her family. One of the things we bought for her was some real Belgian Dutch processed cocoa powder. It came in a fancy blue canister. Younger daughter opened it for the first time a couple of days ago and was immediately shocked by how different it looked, compared to her American cocoa powder.
Then she made the hot cocoa and was blown away by how much better it tasted, compared to the American stuff. Not only that, but she didn’t suffer a headache or stomach issues due to the cocoa, as she normally would have. After she excitedly told us about how excellent the Belgian Dutch processed cocoa was, she added that her husband also thought it was much better and didn’t suffer the usual ill effects. He said, “We can’t ever go back (to American cocoa powder, that is)!”
Bill explained to his daughter that the Dutch processed cocoa is treated with an alkalizing agent that reduces the acidity of the cocoa and takes away some of the bitterness. It’s also much lower in caffeine than non Dutch processed cocoa is. Since younger daughter and her husband are devout Mormons, it’s likely they are sensitive to caffeine. They don’t drink coffee or black tea, and probably don’t drink a lot of cola. While caffeine can help get rid of headaches to those who are addicted to it, it can also cause adverse side effects in those who aren’t used to it.
There’s also the fact that Belgian chocolate is among the very best in the world, and is made to very different standards than US made chocolate is. If you’ve ever eaten a Hershey bar, you might notice that they tend to have a distinctive smell kind of reminiscent of vomit. But other chocolate doesn’t necessarily have that pukey aroma. I’ve never encountered it in Belgian or Swiss chocolates. The weird smell is there because of the presence of butyric acid, which is also present in rancid butter, Parmesan cheese, and vomit. Hershey’s claims that they do not put the acid in the chocolate; and yet, somehow it still seems to make its way into their products. If you click the link in this paragraph, you can read more about how and why the acid is in Hershey’s chocolate, when the company swears they aren’t the ones putting it there.
After Bill told his daughter about Dutch processed cocoa and the high quality of Belgian and other European chocolates, I quipped “Now you’ve bonded over cocoa powder. She’s learned about European chocolate because of you.” Her mother never exposed her to many things from Europe. Indeed, she seems to embrace knock offs rather than genuine articles. Almost everything in her life– from her handbags to her children’s father figures– is fake.
I’m glad younger daughter is getting to talk to Bill about these things now… but I wish she’d been able to do that when she was still growing up. I wish Bill could have taught her things when she was a child and a teenager. And I wonder what could happen when she has a quiet moment or two, sometime in the future, and realizes what was stolen from her when she was coming of age. Her father could have died on 9/11, or when he went to Iraq to fight in a war, or even on his many commutes to and from work. Fortunately, he’s still here, and technology allows him and his daughter to finally get to know each other, in spite of her mother’s efforts to destroy their bond.
Well, at least they can talk about these things now. At least now Bill can help her broaden her horizons, even if it’s just through talking about cocoa powder from Belgium. This story could have turned out a lot worse. Anyway, I’m glad younger daughter is enjoying the Dutch processed cocoa powder. Bill used some the other day when he made us brownies. I was craving them, even though I’m definitely not pregnant.
I’m not sure if we sent her the Van Houten Dutch processed cocoa powder, which is from Belgium. However, I have a feeling that now that she’s tried it, she won’t want to go back to Hershey’s. I hope someday that she and her husband, at the very least, can visit Europe and experience it for themselves. I think if they had a chance to travel outside of the United States, they would be shocked and awed by what’s out there.
As it is now, younger daughter has some favorite German candy. She’s partial to gummi bears, of course, but she also loves Milka chocolate bars. She hasn’t even tried Ritter Sports yet. Bill was going to send some to her in our latest care package, but the store had run out of them. Next time we send her some goodies, we’ll have to throw in Ritter Sports, which are made very close to where we used to live. Something tells me once they try them, she and her husband won’t be able to go back… or unring the bell, as it were. This could turn out to be a metaphor of their lives as a whole.