A Chocoholic’s Guide to a Yummy Library In-Service

Our library closed one day last week for a Staff In-Service, where we learned to better serve you, our patrons, and also had a chocolate-tasting,* because happy librarians are far more willing to share that happy—if not the actual chocolate.

My brilliant friend Cha Cha, who does All The Fun Things, was in charge and offered eight anonymous samples for us to smell and taste and decipher, before revealing the type and telling us a little about the companies.

Informative and yummy—what’s not to like?

ChocoloveWe started out with a Peach & Pecan in Milk Chocolate from Chocolove, which was okay.  Apparently, the founder and owner, Timothy Moley, is something of a Willy Wonka, and has consumed two chocolate bars a day for the last eighteen years.  After hearing that, the love poem printed on inside each wrapper is put into almost disturbing perspective—not that I don’t appreciate the sweet (ahem) touch!**

The second one was Green & Black’s Maya Gold, which I’ve gobbled like an addicted lunatic tried before—dark chocolate with orange and ‘spices,’ which aren’t listed but must include cloves.  So, so good, as is every Green & Black’s bar I’ve ever had, even the white, which Cha Cha insists isn’t actually chocolate.  I don’t see how that matters, but okay.

GhirardelliThe third was a Ghirardelli Intense Dark Cabernet Matinee, which was fruity and smooth and lovely, but again, I liked the story better.  Apparently, Mr. Ghirardelli made his chocolate fortune in California, selling his products to the gold rushers, but not because these newly rich men were desperate for chocolate, oh, no.  They were desperate for women, but Mr. Ghirardelli’s theory, which he shared with his customers, was that women love chocolate . . . and I probably don’t have to spell out the rest.***

Godiva Sea SaltThe fourth was my favorite, a dark chocolate with sea salt in it—thank heavens salt is okay to eat now, because it’s amazing with chocolate and caramel.  I’ve been a member of the Godiva Chocolate of the Month Club for years, so I wasn’t surprised when I learned this one was theirs.  Neither was a shocked when my kids inhaled the leftover pieces I brought home, because genetics. To be honest, I was a little weirded out that up until five years ago, Godiva was owned by Campbell Soup . . . it was kind of like learning that the Solo plastic cup company has owned Tiffany’s for the past forty years.^

Tho Pili PiliThe fifth hurtseriously, I tasted it and my tongue lit up like I’d set it on fire.  Theo Chocolate’s Congo Pili Pili Chili bar is infused with a pepper that registers just under a habanero on the heat scale; a habenero is 10, a jalapeno is a five, and a pili pili is an eight.  I brought some home for my SIL, Watson, who snarfed it up like I’d brought her the Godiva, so I’m planning on buying a bar for my mother, who has the same Teflon tastebuds—proving that sometimes genetics ain’t all that.

I can’t tell you about the sixth because my own tastebuds were still ticked off at me, but it was a sugarless one from Guylian and apparently not bad.  Good to know there’s a decent choice out there now for people who watch their sugar intake—I remember my grandpa, who was diabetic, making a No Chocolate for Me face that could damn near break your heart.

The seventh was a Lindt Passion Fruit bar, which was awesome, as Lindt usually is—my German teacher in high school used to reward us with Lindt chocolate.  I did very well in that class.

ritter espressoWhich brings us to the final sample.  You know how I always say that if coffee tasted like it smelled, I wouldn’t treat it like medicine for a chronic caffeine deficiency?  Ritter Sports espresso has me covered.  Or maybe I had it covered.  Regardless, I grabbed most of the leftovers and hightailed it before my co-workers noticed.  What’s better for a librarian than coffee chocolate?  It’s a match made in the kind of heaven you don’t tell your kids about.

So, if you ever have a chance to go to a chocolate tasting, go.  It’s a great time.

And afterwards, if you have a choice of meditation or self-defense, go for the second.  Naptime Meditation might sound good, but remember, after the in-service, you’ll have to walk all those chocolate leftovers through the parking lot to your car . . . And your co-workers know it.


*We had a choice between the yoga and the chocolate, but since I’m shacking up with a yoga instructor, I opted for the latter.  Not, as my husband pointed out, I would have chosen differently under any circumstances, but he was happy to provide the excuse, bless him.

** I’m thinking of doing a chocolate poem post one of these Wednesdays—reporting on which poems are paired with which flavored bar.  It would mean tasting a lot of chocolate, but I’d manage somehow . . . for you.

***Apparently, the spelling and pronunciation of his name was a sore spot for Mr. Ghirardelli, who spent a lot of his advertising space reminding people about the second ‘ar’ sound.  Oddly, my spell check doesn’t have a problem with it—then again, it’s my spell check . . .

^ I’m almost positive it hasn’t.  If you know better, please leave the remains of my naivety alone.



Poetry Wednesday: Don’t Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Honey (A Guest Post by Cha Cha)

My friend Cha Cha not only wrote me a fabulous guest post, but she did it with
poetry—because lyrics are poetry set to audible music. 

Thanks, Cha!
My friend Sarah has been nagging me (kindly) to write a guest blog for a while now, but I’ve been stumped on a topic. With a few language degrees under my belt I am capable of talking about anything with a fair amount of ability, but that doesn’t mean I would say anything of interest, to a reader or to myself.

Then I drove home today.

I recently moved to Iowa from a state that wasn’t Iowa. Needless to say, my home state did not celebrate country music in the same way that Iowa does. Normally I avoid listening to country music with energy I usually reserve for things like suddenly having to run cross country to avoid flesh-eating zombies (although the flaw in this plan is that zombies are slow moving, and at most I would have to keep up a steady ramble). However, there are days when I feel compelled to listen to country.

As a music form it does have a lot going for it. It certainly, in its repetitive stanza formula, creates a listening experience that sucks one in. On some level I feel compelled to listen to country out of a feeling of when-in-Rome. This is, according to air time, the music of Iowans. To live among them I should acquaint myself with their music. Basic cultural integration.

Then I hear lyrics that yank me forcefully out, things like (and I’m paraphrasing) “I can’t wait to see you grow with child” or “Won’t you look lovely with a kid on each hip.”

Aside from the feminist issues that these lyrics raise (I’ve never heard a woman say she can’t wait to see a man with a child on each hip), there is a part of me that screams about the destruction done to the music of MY people, the British and the Irish. So much work has been done proving that country music in America rose out of the Appalachian interpretations of British and Irish music, particularly ballads, that came over with the immigrants.

When I listen to classic British and Irish ballads, sung by, perhaps, a luminary voice like Kate Rusby and then realize it has “evolved” into a form of music that includes the real lyric “I’d like to check you for ticks,” more than a little bit of me dies.

Now we have a form of music that celebrates women as child bearers and nothing more, or in the last lyric’s case, a possible victim of Lyme disease. But before I ride off into the sunset on my high horse of righteous indignation, I look back at the original ballads and realize that they too, were songs sung, many by men, talking about the pale skin of the beautiful woman waiting for them back home. Perhaps my indignation should not be at the butchering modern country music has done to my beloved ballads of the past, but rather about a lack of evolution over the many decades. Women can now wear pants, but the change hasn’t quite made it to the music.

Yes, we have strong songs by strong women, but many are songs of rage about men who did them wrong, which to me, is not much more than a gender reversal of the songs about men who lost their women, their dog, and their trucks.

Instead of simply complaining, I would like to propose an alternative song, a love song from a man’s point of view (yes, yes, I’m a woman) about how he is looking for more than gingham and child-rearing hips. In a test of my ability to do simple math, I kept it to the ABCB format of most traditional British ballads with a 9898 count:

Don’t Let Me Call You Sweetheart, Honey
(Cha Cha ©2012*)

Don’t let me call you “sweetheart,” honey,
Diminutives ill-suit your fire.
Instead, I’ll call you what you wish, ma’am:
“Miss,” “dame,” “madam,” it’s your desire.

I shan’t talk treacle of your beauty
Through lens of procreation sole,
Ovarian traits aren’t all there are
There’s brains, inventions, arts, and goals.

Pale-skinned rapture can go to Hades.
Thy beauty’s in thy frontal lobe,
Thy preference for equal rights
Ignites my soul, ignites my soul.
Take thy shoes of sensibility
March past the rednecks as you stroll,
They can keep their surface beauties.
I like my women real and whole.

My woman Pulitzer stands up for
Nobel prizes shall line her walls.
Her logic is cooler than polar ice.
Were Einstein here, he’d take her calls.

Efficiently her bus’nesses run,
Her armies march a well-planned path.
Her chess skills leave me without breath,
(She truly liked The Grapes of Wrath.)

Pale-skinned rapture can go to Hades.
Thy beauty’s in thy frontal lobe,
Thy preference for equal rights
Ignites my soul, ignites my soul.
Take thy shoes of sensibility
March past the rednecks as you stroll,
They can keep their surface beauties.
I like my women real and whole.

She needn’t do all I have mentioned.
It’s not at all what I require.
But, ladies, hear this simple ballad,
And know what works to light my fire.

Stuff the blond hair and your sundresses.
We don’t all wish for this tableau.
I want a partner with hopes of strength,
A plan, a dream, a row to hoe.

When morning comes, don proud thy armor:
Your trusty bra of eighteen hours.
Go forth and conquer what you battle,
With your smarts and with your powers.

Pale-skinned rapture can go to Hades.
Thy beauty’s in thy frontal lobe,
Thy preference for equal rights
Ignites my soul, ignites my soul.
Take thy shoes of sensibility
March past the rednecks as you stroll,
They can keep their surface beauties.
I like my women real and whole.

I actually stole the structure straight from “Scarborough Fair” which was NOT going through my head as I wrote this. Going back, it’s rather trippy to match the rhythm with the tune.

Hope this qualifies as a guest post for Sarah. If not, well, perhaps it will be a while before she nags me (kindly) again.

Thanks for reading.