2012.02.01 Remember to stop and savor the chocolates

Written by David Green.

By COLLEEN LEDDY

Whenever I am eating something delectable that is also in short supply, I try to remind myself to enjoy every last bit of it. Invariably, I don’t remember and I get down to the last bit or bite without taking sufficient time to savor it. Invariably, I end up mindlessly gobbling that last bite without noticing that it is the last bite. Invariably, I moan and groan aloud—once again, instead of savoring every last second, I have squandered the pleasure.

A couple weeks ago, I received a chocolate bar for my birthday that I'd never had before—a Perugina Luisa dark chocolate bar with 51% “cacao.” It’s complicated business, this chocolate, with its percentages and packaging and ingredient lists that refer to “cacao” as cocoa, chocolate, cocoa butter, cocoa solids or chocolate liquor.

I think cacao is just a fancy way of saying all of the above, but according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, cacao is the dried partly fermented fatty seeds of a South American evergreen tree—which sounds real appetizing. But mix it with sugar and even fermented fatty seeds of a South American evergreen tree will taste pretty darn good.

And, geez Luisa! This Perugina was excellent—even though, I was chagrined to discover, it contains “artificial flavor”—most likely vanillin, but curiously, it doesn’t specify.

I had been nibbling (OK, “breaking big squares off and chomping down” is a more accurate description) from the chocolate bar over the course of a couple days as it sat on the dining room buffet.

Last Sunday, while catching up on reading the week’s Free Presses, I ate a couple squares of the Perugina in the same way people drink a morning cup of coffee to jolt themselves awake. When I was done with the stack, I had only one square of chocolate left and reminded myself I really had to savor this one. 

Later, I broke the square of chocolate in half and walked into another room. As I finished the half square, I exclaimed aloud, “Oh, no! Did I just eat the whole thing?” 

It was walking through two doorways that made me forget (Remember that column I wrote a couple months ago?  “...recent research says the physical act of going through that doorway could be linked to forgetting things. Entering or exiting through a doorway serves as an 'event boundary' in the mind, which separates episodes of activity and files them away," study researcher Gabriel Radvansky, a psychology professor at the University of Notre Dame, said... "Recalling the decision or activity that was made in a different room is difficult because it has been compartmentalized.”)

The column in which I said my daughter Rosie told me about the doorway to forgetfulness? It was actually Maddie who told me about it.

“Did you forget that I told you about that study?” Maddie asked when she read the column.

Yup. And, in examining this issue again, I realize why: The central hallway in our house has five doorways through which I traverse a million times a day. Is it any wonder I’m forgetful? Is this why more modern homes have open floor plans? 

Anyway, I was elated when I walked back into the dining room and there was my other half of the chocolate square. What a delight! I held the piece up, gave it my full attention, reminded myself that this was, indeed, now the last piece and told myself to savor it fully.

Boy, oh, boy, what a difference when you slow down and let the chocolate melt in your mouth. Flavor explosion! There’s no doubt that you just finished it and no instant desire for another piece. It's satisfying, satiating. 

Pardon me while I go test this on another bar of chocolate.

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