Julz World: My Name Is Julie & I'm A Chocoholic
By Julie Symons - former Napier journalist, current world traveller who now bases herself in Switzerland.
Hello, my name is Julie and I’m a chocoholic.
Don’t laugh. It’s a serious matter, as any fellow sufferer will tell you.
At the moment my addiction is under relative control. I’ve reduced my intake down to half a block a day. On a good day, I can get by on chocolate bikkies alone.
At the peak of my addiction however, I was fully, 100% obsessed with the creamy, melting, sweet sensation of chocolate. The richer, the better.
My every waking hour, my dreams, my every thought centred on my next fix. I’d close my eyes and chocolate would be firmly imprinted on my eyelids. I learned to pronounce it in numerous languages. I discovered ways to hide my secret supply so well meaning friends couldn’t rescue me from my addiction – when they tried, I’d turn into a crazed maniac with raving, lunatic eyes.
It all started in Israel. A kibbutz diet is mostly sugar free; a kibbutz day is routine and dull. It’s a sure-fire recipe for cravings. I rationed myself to one block a day, but only because I was broke. The cheapest stuff was the dark cooking chocolate that most people find repulsive. But my eyes would light up at the very thought of it.
Sometimes I wonder if my nose led me to Switzerland. This is surely one of the most expensive countries in the world. On the whole, groceries cost three times more than in New Zealand. The one thing that’s affordable is chocolate. My cupboards are stocked with blocks of the cheap 55 centime (NZ 70c) supermarket brand stuff. But so, I might add, are most people’s.
One of my favourite places in Switzerland is the Nestlé factory at Broc. This is the chocoholic’s ultimate fantasy come true. After watching a 3-day movie on the making of chocolate, while staff pump the sweet scent into the room, you then wander past giant vats filled to the brim with smooth chocolate mixture. But the pièce de résistance is the totally orgasmic chocolate tasting room. My pupils dilate and my heart beats faster at the very mention of it. Plate after plate of different varieties – white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate with nuts – all crying out to be sampled. And all for free.
Switzerland’s also home to what is surely the world’s best gourmet invention: chocolate fondue. And it’s healthy, truly, because you add pieces of fruit!
As with any addiction, chocoholics are often in denial. Personally I refuse to accept responsibility for my insatiable cravings by blaming my genes (Mum has a sweet tooth as well). Mostly though I accept I’m an addict, I just deny there’s anything wrong with the fact.
Fortunately for me, I can eat as much sugar as I like without gaining an ounce of weight. I also console myself with the fact that without chocoholics like me, a lot of dentists would be out of work. Having said that, researchers in Japan have discovered that certain antibacterial parts of the cocoa bean actually stop dental decay. Unfortunately, these parts are usually wasted during chocolate production, but that doesn’t stop me from telling anyone who’ll listen that chocolate is actually good for your teeth. Or at least, it has the potential to be.
Then there’s the age-old theory that the chemicals in chocolate are a good substitute for sex. It’s the perfect food to mend a broken heart, excellent company, it doesn’t answer back or go to the pub with its mates, and you can have a spur of the moment rendezvous with a block of chocolate without worrying about your hair, make-up and clothes.
But you know, all this talk about chocolate is making me hungry…
Copyright (c) Julie Symons 2001
For more Columns by Julie Symons see… Spectator.co.nz’s Julz World Series….