Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The taste of pleasure.

Last Friday, I found myself among an overwhelming herd of people--a colorful blend of eager tourists, locals, spectators of all ages, and connoisseurs of nearly every ethnicity. Grandmothers, sons, uncles, nieces, friends, lovers, infants, French, Americans, Belgians, Chinese, Japanese, Russians, Moroccans, Algerians, British, Germans…

We waited together, stifling our anticipation--my excitement equaled by the 4-year-old standing at my side, who stood on her tip toes, neck protruding, gripping tightly to my leg—until we were finally assembled under one roof, united by one thing, and one thing only:


Yes, chocolate.

Paris’s Porte de Versailles Expo recently hosted the 15th annual Salon du Chocolat, a festival celebrating one of earth's greatest (and most delicious) creations. Paris, one out of only SIX major cities worldwide to put on this chocolaty production, attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, who all come to witness and enjoy the marriage between innovative cuisine, creative artistic expression, and shameless gluttony.

For a 12 Euro entry fee, the public could explore the two-story, 14,000 square meter arena lined end to end with hundreds of booths overflowing with specialty chocolate from top chefs from select European regions, along with recipe demonstrations and an educational timeline of the manufacturing process from the cultivation of cacao beans to the distribution of candy bars on store shelves.

They even had a musical performance. But that was nothing compared to the fashion show of chocolate dresses.

The most important part of all this, and one of the main motivating factors in my attendance of this festival, was the FREE SAMPLES. Samples tended to every palate, spanning along the entire spectrum of the sweet tooth's imagination. Some of the ones I tried ranged from the more mainstream treats--fudge, ice cream, truffles, ├ęclairs, and fondue--to the more experimental creations: chocolate covered jelly beans, chocolate liqueur, etc. *Note to self--chocolate is good and liqueur is good. But the combination of the two is a disatrous mix. Chocolate covered jelly beans, on the other hand...magical.

Despite the inevitable stomach cramps, it was quite the experience--a true chocolate lover's paradise. Which gives me even more reason to believe that Paris knew I was coming.

Lesson #8: Your soul loves chocolate.