Before I left for a month in France on exchange, a sixty-year old friend of the family gave me a list of musts for the twelve days I would be spending in Paris. Amongst the dozen or so suggestions, one name stuck out – La Maison du Chocolat.
Along with the location, she had given me two pieces of advice. The first was that even though the chocolat chaud would be the most expensive hot chocolate I would ever encounter, it was worth it. The second was a reminder that chocolate was a drug and I needed to be prepared for possible side effects.
Laughing, I told her to not worry, that I would swallow the price and be sure to be careful while consuming said “drug.” Departing her house, I couldn’t help doubting her ominous warnings about the strength of the chocolate.
My first two weeks in France were wonderful. I enjoyed my host families and even though my vegetarianism prohibited me from tasting some classic French delicacies, I still got my fair share, including the rather pungent local cheese.
Shortly after arriving in Paris, we had an afternoon off where we were free to roam. Four friends and I walked down the Champs ElysÃ©es asking several people where La Maison du Chocolat was. As we finally rounded the corner and came upon the shop, our eyes widened at the impressive and mouth-watering window displays. I can safely say that we were all in a euphoric stupor solely upon entering the store. We sat down at one of the few tables in the corner and placed our orders. I was the only one amongst my friends who was daring enough to order the Caracas Chocolat Chaud (the darkest chocolate), and perhaps this was my first mistake
Our white mugs arrived accompanied by a dish of fresh whipped cream. The scent wafting up alone convinced us that the 6,70 Euros per cup were well worth it.
As I dipped my spoon into the swirling brown mixture, the viscosity of the liquid instantly amazed me. It was melted chocolate. As I brought the spoon to my mouth the liquid stuck to the spoon, and before I swallowed it seemed as though I had just eaten a chocolate bar and some of it had been left in my mouth to melt. I happily consumed my mug’s worth, and volunteered to finish the rest of my friend’s, as she had thought it a bit too rich.
Sitting in the divine shop, I figured that my world-traveling friend had exaggerated her cautionary warning of the chocolate’s effects. It wasn’t until we had paid and were walking down the Champs ElysÃ©es that the pressure began to build behind my eyes. My head was pounding and walking in a straight line suddenly proved rather challenging. Yet the most pervasive feeling of all was that of euphoria; I felt unbelievably happy and I was unable to wipe the grin off of my face. It was true, I was drugged.
No matter that I spent 10 dollars on a hot chocolate or that I ingested over 1000 calories in one mug’s worth, and no matter that I zigzagged down the sidewalks of the Champs ElysÃ©es like a drunkard, remembering that taste six months later, I know it was absolutely, positively, 100 percent worth it.
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