(A picture of the tempting fare at ‘Concu’ in Hyderabad)
“Mmmm, this is sinful delight,” murmured the guest as she savoured a spoonful of the exotically named birthday cake…a ‘Baileys Triple Decker Chocolate Truffle Cake’ which the chocolatier described as “Divine layers of coco Kahlua mousse, dark chocolate truffle, Baileys and white chocolate cream” (a perfect example of the chocolate-hedonism of our times!) It’s quite amusing to see how most of us have these ambivalent thoughts about a gooey chocolate extravaganza…on one side its exquisite taste earning it a high-praise-epithet like ‘ambrosia’, while on the other we take guilty bites as if giving into this temptation is going to lead to eternal damnation!
Chocolate in our country has come a long way from our childhood days when Cadburys, Nestle and Amul ruled as just simple sweet-pacifiers for kids. Then came the time when we got a taste of international brands that define chocolate like Toblerone, Lindt, Mars, Snickers etc mostly brought in as gifts by foreign returning relatives. Around the turn of the century, chocolate boutiques suddenly started mushrooming at every corner, offering traditional and exotic flavours aesthetically wrapped for the more discerning customer. Perhaps this was a phenomenon largely caused by more and more people travelling and being exposed to exotic foods from around the world. On their return such people looked for similar tastes and flavours but found no such gourmet-salvation in our own cities. Many of them then turned towards filling in that gap by setting up their own chocolate boutiques.
With designer chocolates becoming a much sought after commodity, a new chocolate culture has sprung up in our country where exotic chocolates have gradually replaced the traditional Indian “mithai” as post meal sweet-bites, festival-gifts and even wedding return-favours. It reminds me in some ways of that delightful novel ”Chocolat” by Joanne Harris. In it Vianne Rocher a single mother arrives in a little French village one day, sets up her ‘La Celeste Praline’ and proceeds to transform the lives of the people in the community who visit her chocolaterie with the magic of her delectable fare. Our taste-buds too are being gratified today by hundreds of such ‘Vianne Rochers’ whose beguiling and mouthwatering creations seem to proudly proclaim “Chocolate Is My Religion.” And as we willingly choose to be captivated by the sensory pleasures of their rich flavours, no one seems to be complaining about any “Death by Chocolate”!!