THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (Travelogue)

Hema Ravi
CHOCOLATES! Its mention brings along feelings addictive, comforting, heavenly, yummy, sprinkled, heavenly, succulent… And I can say with certainty that I am not the sole chocoholic, guilty of devouring them day after day. Millions of us have a weakness for chocolates and ice creams and justify ourselves by advocating that dark chocolates contain ‘Flavanols’ that could improve ‘vascular health’ by helping blood vessels function better, lowering blood pressure, and fighting fatigue. 

“Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” – an amazing piece of literature from the legendary Roald Dahl has enthralled book enthusiasts all along; many of us have had the privilege of reading it in our childhood. Apparently, the book’s first draft was ‘encased in chocolate and given to another child as an Easter present.’ The premise for the book was Roald Dahl’s experience as a ‘taster for Cadbury’ during his younger days. Being part of this ‘early focus group’ triggered Dahl to visualize a ‘chocolate inventing room,’ enticed him adequately to share his experiences in the novel, which was adapted in the thrilling film Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, subsequently in ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.’

Live experience at a chocolate factory is mind blowing for anyone; age is just a number! Listening with rapt attention to the tour guide helps to gather insights about the journey of the cacao pods from farms in faraway countries such as Nigeria, Ghana, Peru….

Well, the idea of visiting a chocolate factory was triggered by the ‘Dark Chocolate Truffle Bar with crunchy peanut butter chocolate center,’ purchased from QFC. The inside wrapper had a rather interesting message- 

‘cheerful truffle bar - for yourself or give to someone - brings light to your day- your purchase supports - inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold.’

These catchy phrases on the inner wrapper caught my attention, enthused me and other family members to set off for the factory tour.

Great Message
Photo Courtesy: N. Ravi

The welcome ‘chocolate’ drink offered soon after visitors were seated in the classroom, the educational videos, the walk along the long viewing platform on the first floor with masks over heads (moustache covers for men) offered visual euphoria, while the chocolate nibs, the sample truffle and chocolates offered by the tour-guide from time to time in the hour-long tour brought along a plethora of sensory experiences. (Saturday, being a holiday, we could not watch the live demonstration of the roasting, grinding, sorting, packaging processes…)

Portion of display at the retail outlet
Photo Courtesy: N. Ravi

Interestingly, I also learnt that white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, the pale-yellow edible fat extracted from the bean. (A cacao bean is made up of roughly equal parts cocoa butter and cacao nibs.) Another remarkable learning is that cocoa butter has the flavor and aroma of cocoa. Its melting point is just below our body temperature, hence is solid at room temperature.
We were allowed to see, smell and feel the texture of the beans, cocoa nibs and get a glimpse into the traditional method of ‘churning’ 
The designer churner reminded me of the wooden butter churner that grandma used to make large dollops of butter.

The moment that saddened me was when the tour-guide told us that chocolate is by and far among the most under-priced of products, considering the labour involved in the cultivation, harvesting, drying and shipping the cocoa beans to the manufacturing factories for further complex processes. Farmers everywhere are a short-changed community!

Another nagging thought that loomed - in a world wrought with unpredictable wars and climatic changes, I sincerely hope the farmers in the faraway equatorial countries continue to be motivated, gain more incentives for the cultivation of cacao beans, in order that chocolates continue to be around for the next gen.

The Truffle Wall (Seattle Chocolate Factory)
Photo Courtesy: N. Ravi

We got insights about the ‘compostable wrappers’ used for wrapping truffles; they are made from cellulose of eucalyptus trees. The wrappers would compost even in a home compost bin within a short period of about 8 weeks. 

A diminutive, distinct step towards reduction of carbon footprint!

Portion of display at the retail outlet
Photo Courtesy: N. Ravi


The chocolates sampled did have the desired effect on the visitors, an indirect marketing strategy too, perhaps! We walked out of the retail section with a large booty of chocolates for ourselves, friends and relatives. 

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Poem

WHOLESOME TREAT

My morning meal is sumptuous,
with bananas, nuts scrumptious,
large milkshake.

Working lunch - with a large pancake,
samosas, crispies; at tea-break
Cheeseburger!

At dinner, rice, lentils and stew,
Amidst yummy food in the queue --
small cheesecake.


(Compound Words have been used in the verse, with syllable count 8,8,3)

2 comments :

  1. Thoroughly enjoyed reading your write up and the poem, dear Hema! As always, a treat!

    ReplyDelete
  2. PADMAJA IYENGAR-PADDYJuly 7, 2022 at 5:32 AM

    Thoroughly enjoyed your write up and poem, dear Hema! Thanks for the treat!

    ReplyDelete

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