Women and chocolate


A moment of irritating indecision.  A moment of regret.

I am in a coffee shop/patisserie in Berlin.  I have been walking and walking and walking and sightseeing and sightseeing and am ready to sit, rest and refresh.  There is a lineup at the counter and as I wait, I spot the most incredible pastry, drizzled with glossy ganache, filled with chocolate cream and some sort of rich looking custard.  I immediately covet it, but the shop is lined with mirrors and as I look up, a solitary lady of “a certain age”, in the corner catches my eye.  She is sitting at a tiny marble topped table, ignoring her cup of coffee and avidly eating this very pastry with chin-quivering, unrestrained gusto.  And she is very, very — chubby.  I DO NOT want to be that lady so much that I order my double espresso, pay for it, drink it quickly at the counter and continue on my way.

And I’m still annoyed when I think about that moment of self denial that was occasioned by irrationality and false impressions and years and years of conditioning.  It’s a small thing, an unremarkable, trivial incident, but it was a lesson in how not to think for yourself, how not to be yourself.  Surely not enjoying that chocolate-drenched pastry was just as foolish as scoffing down five them would have been.  And, yes, it is a feminist issue.


Almost everyone loves to eat chocolate, but for a long time, it was deemed a “sin” which was linked mainly to women.  It was a perceived link — “women plus chocolate equals sexual bliss” — that really has no basis in either history or science.  It is a link, in fact, that has been perpetrated by the market place, a way to sell chocolate to both men and women.

Chocolate was thought of as not only naughty, but fattening and unhealthy and eating chocolate was equated with self indulgence of the very worst kind; it was something that was done behind closed doors because of the dire consequences that awaited.  Fortunately that idea has changed over the last couple of years because of the discovery of “flavonoids”, those chemical compounds that are known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities. Flavonoids (actually flavonols, in chocolate) are good for your cardiovascular system and chocolate, at least the dark kind, is full of them. (They’re also in apples, tea, onions, cranberries and — whoo hoo — red wine, apparently.)

Anyway, on February 5th, I am going to be making my way down to Liuna Station to upload my flavonol quota with absolutely no regrets.  The event that I am attending is called “Chocolate Fest” — “The 11th Annual Chocolate Fest and Silent Auction”, to be precise, and it is a benefit for SACHA, the Hamilton Sexual Assault Centre. 


The chocolate fest is described as “an elegant evening of chocolate treats from Hamilton and area premier chocolatiers, bakeries and restaurants” — places such as Weils of Westdale, Beanermunkey, Denningers, Hotti Biscotti — for a complete list of the over 20 local businesses, check out the website at http://sacha.ca/events/chocolate-fest/chocolate-fest-bakeries

SACHA “supports survivors of sexual assaults while working to end violence in our community.” The organization bills itself as a feminist, non-profit, community based group of women, guided by anti racist and anti-oppressive values.  SACHA volunteers work to provide services to people who have experienced sexual violence at any point in their lives.  The organization provides education, advocacy and coalition building, community partnerships and activism and works toward the equitable inclusion of all women.  If you feel that you need help from SACHA, you should know that all inquiries are absolutely private and confidential.  For an overview of SACHA’s programs and resources check out their website http://sacha.ca/

I think it’s very clever of SACHA to have taken a tongue-in-cheek look at the stereotyping of “women who lust for chocolate” and I hope you will join me in an evening of self indulgence and good cheer on February 5th.

And, in the meantime, here’s a divinely decadent hot fudge sauce that you can keep in the refrigerator.  Just warm it up in the microwave before pouring it over ice cream or cake, or whatever (or whomever), pleases your fancy. Eat it happily all at once, or in occasional little spoonfuls whenever you feel the need to treat yourself.

Hot Fudge Sauce

from Gourmet magazine, February 2004.


2/3 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

6 oz fine quality bittersweet chocolate finely chopped

2 tbsp unsalted butter

1 tsp vanilla


1)  Bring cream, corn syrup, sugar, cocoa, salt and half of chocolate to a boil in a 1 – 1 1/2 quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until chocolate is melted.

2) Reduce heat and cook at a low boil, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

3)  Add butter, vanilla and remaining chocolate and stir until smooth.  Cool sauce to warm before serving.

My Notes:

Can be kept in the refrigerator for a week in an airtight container.









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