Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sacrament February 28, 2009

Sisters and Brothers, after Valentine's Day we who use chocolate as a part of our journey toward the Divine, can find a lot of good sales. This is the time to look beyond the big chocolate makers and to more curious and unique chocolates at much lower prices. Here you see two boxes of "Too Good Gourmet" Shortbread Heart Cookies, one in dark chocolate and the other in white chocolate, the two extremes perhaps of our potential sacraments.

The boxes themselves are rather sturdy, and since chocolate must be cultivated we should consider the packaging when we purchase. Landfills and garbage dumps are hardly good soil in which to grow the cocoa bean. These boxes I will save and reuse in the future, for not only do I buy chocolates, I also make them, and think these could be nice gift boxes.

Do not be mislead by the title of "heart cookies" on the boxes. No, the cookies themselves are not heart-shaped, but only have tiny heart-shaped decorations on them. A review of the Nutrition Facts label reveal no transfats but about 2g saturated fat per cookie. There are also several allergy warnings for wheat, soy and dairy with the possibility of eggs, peanuts and tree nuts as well. Side note: How can they not know what is in their cookies?

The boxes are merely sealed by two strips of tape that you will need scissors to open, and they are encased further by thick plastic bags. When you open the bag the smell of the shortbread cookies and the sugar decorations overwhelms the aroma of the dark or white chocolates. Yet we should not let the pleasant but non-chocolate scent dissuade us from trying them.

I laid two of each type of cookie on the sacred dish to show you what they look like. They are 1.5 inches in diameter, and the decorative hearts fall off easily. These are normally almost $7 for the 8oz box, but by waiting until after Valentine's Day I got each for under $1!

I have not had any other food now for over 3 hours. My palate is clear; my focus turns first to the white chocolate.

The white chocolate is waxy in texture, and it melts a bit at my touch. The red decorative hearts threaten to fall, tempting me to pop an entire cookie into my mouth. I resist, for I know that in order to fully experience it I must take it in small quantities. The decorative hearts snap between my teeth, and the cookie crunches as I take a bite. The white chocolate melts on my lips and tongue, mixing its rather bland taste with the sweetness and butteryness of the cookie. A second bite reveals that the cookie is a bit chewy, not what I was expecting from shortbread in a box.

Now I shall reveal the nature of the white chocolate cookie when I give into temptation and put the entire morsel into my mouth. It is a mouthful, and soon the chocolate is melting into my mouth, slowly exposing the cookie to my tastebuds. Your Chocolate Priestess is not perfect; she, too, is growing in her spirituality, and thus I cave in and crunch the cookie, not allowing it to turn soggy after about a minute of the melting chocolate.

Clensing my palate with water and a few minutes wait, I turn to the dark chocolate version. The most difficult flavors to rid myself of before this next potential sacrament are those of the cookie and the sugar heart decorations, for I personally find that white chocolate is bland and leaves no aftertaste.

The dark chocolate also feels waxy to my fingers, but it melts much more quickly, soon threatening to cover my fingertips with the potent substance. I resist again the desire to put the entire cookie in my mouth, determined first to taste it in two bites before seeing if there is a difference in experience with a whole cookie.

The sugar decorations snap again, but the cookie itself is softer and barely makes a sound. Surprisingly the dark chocolate, which seemed to have no scent, now floods my nostrils with its delightful slight bitterness as it melts on my tongue. My eyes flutter a bit as the smell and taste rush to my head, urging a slight sigh from my lips. The second bite is as good as the first.

Exposing my senses to the entire dark chocolate shortbread cookie at once reveals its nature. Sadly the chocolate melts quickly, leaving only the cookie behind, which seems dull compared to the thrill from the ecstastic substance. While the white chocolate cookie seemed more chocolatey when consumed in whole, this is not the case for the dark. Thus if our goal is to commune with the Divine via chocolate, we must use these variations of the same offering in different ways.

Now I am a bit light-headed and must calm my senses again and allow myself to drift a bit in the flow of chocolate through my body.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

All Will Be Welcomed

Before your Chocolate Priestess can guide you through today's sacrament, she must briefly address a controversial subject: White Chocolate. I find this article by well-respected chocolate critic, Clay Gordon, to be very informative: http://www.seriouseats.com/2008/06/white-chocolate-how-its-made-flavor-appeal.html.

Regardless of your personal stand or your respect for government authorities there are people out there who are allergic to cocoa powder so they cannot enjoy the traditional forms of chocolate. Other people simply do not enjoy the tastes of other chocolates for a variety of reason. Rather than deny them a place on our journey with chocolate, I think we should include all those who consume chocolate in any form in our fellowship.
Thus I will indeed be including white chocolates in my evaluations of appropriate sacraments and revelations about chocolate in our lives.

Sisters and Brothers, open your hearts to all of those wishing to come closer to the Divine through the experience and ecstasy of chocolate.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Revelation February 26, 2009

Revelation: Be Wary of Chocolate Health Claims

This morning I read an intriguing article whose content will sound familiar to your ears, Sisters and Brothers.

Healthy Chocolate

Chocolate as health food, especially dark chocolate, has been around for several years now in the media. Of course your Chocolate Priestess is quite fond of dark chocolate but read the article carefully. It isn't just about the chocolate but what is added or not added to it that offered this woman comfort in her world of physical pain.

I have to wonder if blueberries or cocoa alone could have had similar results. If not what is going on chemically and spiritually speaking?

Everyone reading this blog of course likes, perhaps even adores chocolate, but we should never forget our focus on moderation and full appreciation of it coupled with a healthy dose of skepticism when we read claims about the Divine substance.

Sisters and Brothers, may you, too, take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Revelation February 25, 2009

Revelation: Our Approach is Good.

Well, we knew this all ready, didn't we, Sisters and Brothers.

But today there is an article that repeats some of our simple beliefs: Chocolate Tasting

Of course here in this article their panelists are merely sampling various chocolates, comparing them to each other. We should not do this for so many sample in a row dilutes our abilities to fully appreciate this substance that can, if we so chose, lead us closer to the Divine. If you are asked to be on such a panel, by all means do so for you can take the skills you learn here in our place of worship to allow each sense to reveal the nature of the chocolate and apply them in public, spreading the word of how best to use this gift from nature and through the minds of humanity to the world. By doing so, you become apostles of "The Chocolate Cult".

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thief Uses Chocolate Ploy

Revelation: Chocolate is not always used in sacred or positive fashions.

Chocolate Scam

Sisters and Brothers, we have seen them at our own doors and in our offices, they may be children from our neighborhoods or families or they may be strangers who ring our doorbells. Sad but true, some people use our sacraments as a cover for their illegal behavior.

This is a great example of how our moderation, conscious use of this substance can be an aid in helping us see through con artists whatever their age or supposed affiliation. We are not interesting in consuming any chocolate for mere momentary pleasure. No, we are looking for worthy chocolates that help us experience a closer connection to the divine.

Donate please to charities and schools that you are drawn to for your own reason but control that desire for chocolate and think thoroughly before simply buying anything of cocoa origin.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Saturday Sacrament, February 21, 2009

The first "Saturday Sacrament" will be this Reese's Heart, which was a Valentine's Day gift I received. Chocolate which is a present from a loved one is particularly blessed, because while consuming it you may focus not only on your full sensory experience but also on thoughts of the one who gave it to you. The hoped-for result is to connect the potential ecstasy of the chocolate with the lover, urging your back into his or her arms again.

This single-serving Reese's Heart is wrapped in bright red waxy plastic, which ripped easily between my index finger and my thumb when I turned it over and focused on the seam down the back. On the back also is the "Nutrition Facts" label which, when we worship with chocolate in moderation and without trans fats, should not overly concern us. If you have allergies you must read all nutritional facts, for taking a substance that may harm you is not the way to approach the Divine.

The cover of this wrapping suggests that the heart inside will be wide, and yet when opened it reveals a greater length than width, giving the heart a rather narrow and small shape that disappoints the expectant eyes. We must, however, never allow our eyes to dictate whether or not a piece of chocolate is worthy of our use as a sacrament. To determine this we must use all our senses and free ourselves from polluting the experience with fantasies of what it may smell, feel, taste or sound like as we consume it.

For the sacrament you must make sure you partake with a clean palate, free of any other flavors or sensations. I gave myself a three-hour break between other food with only water to drink.

As soon as the wrapper is opened the scent of peanut butter and milk chocolate struck my nose, its tangy tingles coursing up my nostrils and even seeming to penetrate my eyes. When I bend closer and breathe in deeply, the chocolate's scent almost disappears as the nutty aroma overtakes it. All chocolate mixtures run this risk of an imbalance of scents.

The heart fits neatly into the palm of my hand, already a bit wet from anticipation. At this point, with the smell rushing into my mind and my skin in contact with the sacrament, I must consciously slow myself and not cave into hedonistic impulses that would distract me from the full appreciation of this gift. Calmly I refocus on my skin and feel the coolness and dryness of the chocolate outer layer, which begins to melt in my palm and under my worshipful fingertips.

Now is the time to take the first taste, so I approach it from the narrow tip for the smallest of samples. As I bite through the chocolate layer I hear the crunch of the peanut cream inside; the crunch continues with each chew. The tip of my tongue barely senses the chocolate and is quickly intrigued by the peanut flavor. The second bite is not quite as crunchy and less flavorful, both in terms of chocolate and peanut butter. Determined, I take the third bite and let it lie on my tongue, where the chocolate flavor is slowly absorbed and sends tiny flutters through my mind. All too soon, the bottom layer of chocolate is gone, and I must crunch the peanut butter again.

The fourth and fifth bite — this is a five-bite sacrament — has more chocolate layering and thus more of the perfect flavor. The fourth bite I crunch through, while the fifth I allow to melt again on my tongue, lapping at the sides until my eyes sparkle just a bit with that rush of pleasure. This time the peanut almost melts as well.

Afterward, there is a slight bitterness of peanuts in my mouth, so I rinse it out with clean, cool water. During this communion I spent five minutes just savoring the sensations, enjoying the moment, and remembering the look on my partner's face when he presented me with this small token of his love. It is a good memory and a good treat, but not the most chocolaty of sacraments we might allow in our journey.

Sisters and Brothers, may you too take the time to slowly appreciate what the Divine and human ingenuity have offered you in chocolate.

Welcome Sisters and Brothers

Today we begin a journey. A journey of discovery that will aid us in our desire to come closer to the Divine through the experience and ecstasy of chocolate. As a drug, chocolate has the ability to help us open our minds and emotions to reveal great truths and offer solace from every day drudgery.

But, as with all journeys, we cannot take it all in one step. We must treat our encounters with chocolate with the reverence the experience demands, using it in small amounts to open up all our senses to what we can gain via its perfect composition.

Each Saturday, I, The Chocolate Priestess, will participate in our most important sacrament: the consumption of chocolate. I will share that experience with you by writing in detail how each new type of chocolate affects all five of my senses. This will give you the knowledge you need to find the best communion for your own "Saturday Sacraments".

During the week I will post "Revelations" about other products or events related to chocolate such as movies, music, books, stores, or festivals. I will reveal stories about chocolate as they appear in the news and mass media.

Any creator or seller of chocolates or related materials who wishes for me to reveal the true nature of your offering is encouraged to contact me.