Pete Davison: Easter Promise

Posted on April 24, 2011 by

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Happy Easter everyone! And we all know what Easter means: chocolate. (Balls to Jesus, the only thing he ever contributed to my life was delaying lunchtime and hometime at primary school by insisting we pray to him before we could have our sandwiches, which is just a bit needy for my taste. Also, the “zombie Jesus” gag is overdone, much like zombies themselves.)

With that in mind, along with a suggestion from my leading lady (who doesn’t believe I ever use her suggestions) I thought, in that case, I would talk about chocolate. Who doesn’t love chocolate? Aside from people who are allergic to it or any of its ingredients, of course. And even then that doesn’t necessarily stop them.

Chocolate is fairly universally loved, but it’s interesting to see the cultural differences between confectionery. Here in the UK, we tend to be terribly proud of the fact that we have Cadbury’s, who may or may not have invented chocolate and have a factory in a place with the same name as one of their bars. But there’s far more to life than Cadbury’s.

American chocolate, for example. American chocolate is a breed on its own and they don’t always get it quite right. Take Hershey’s Kisses, for example. Sweet name, little individually foil-wrapped rabbit droppings of chocolate that end up not really tasting quite as nice as they look. Plus you’ll be finding those foil wrappers formonths afterwards, since despite the fact that it’s not especially great chocolate, you’ll find yourself snacking on them throughout the course of the day, particularly if it’s Christmas and there’s a big bowl of them on offer.

Then there’s unusual stuff like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. I like these, and they’re pretty much unlike anything the UK has to offer, so it’s nice to enjoy them if I get over to the States. They’re almost cake-like in shape and presentation, but they’re chocolate. Wonders will never cease.

Canada has the Coffee Crisp, which I can’t remember a great deal about aside from the fact that I enjoyed it very much when I had one.

And in the interests of balance, non-UK types, may I educate you in the finest British chocolate has to offer (in my opinion, anyway.) Some of these may be available in your neighbourhood, but I thought I’d share them anyway.

The Mars bar is pretty universally known, but it’s actually not that nice when you get down to it. Sweet chocolate with bland nougat and gooey caramel. Not bad, but far better with the inclusion of peanuts to turn it into a Snickers, formerly Marathon. Snickers is also notable for being the only chocolate bar advertised by Mr. T. Mars, on the other hand, is notable for people battering and deep frying it in chip shops, producing a snack which would probably kill you of heart failure after about two bites.

Cadbury’s chocolate, as previously mentioned, is generally a good bet. You can get Dairy Milk bars in enormous 1kg sizes, too, which is more chocolate than you’d ever need unless you’re the sort of woman who swears period pain can only be cured by ludicrous amounts of chocolate. Or indeed the partner of a woman who swears period pain can only be cured by ludicrous amounts of chocolate.

Fruit and Nut takes the Dairy Milk formula and adds two extra ingredients which you can probably guess. “Fruit” is a bit of a stretch, since it’s just raisins, really, but it adds some interesting variation in texture. And if you want to eat something that’s basically a Fruit and Nut bar with different, slightly inferior chocolate, you should try a Yorkie Biscuit and Raisin — somewhat oddly marketed as being “not for girls”, a campaign which to this day I’m not quite sure how they managed to get away with.

If you have a sweet tooth, then Galaxy chocolate is difficult to beat, particularly if you manage to encounter the Galaxy Caramel or Truffle varieties. It’s pretty sickly-sweet, though, and will probably make you feel rather ill if you eat too much of it.

Bournville, too, another Cadbury’s product — this time dark chocolate — will definitely make you feel sick if you eat too much of it, as I discovered to my cost one day at university. Turns your sick black, too, which makes you feel like a swamp monster.

Boost bars used to be tasty, chocolate, shortbread and caramel type things. Then, at some point during my fourth year at university, they decided that turning them into the chocolate equivalent of a can of Red Bull would somehow be a great idea. My friend and I were passing by the promotional ladies in the student union concourse, so we gathered a few of the new-school Boost bars — now with added Guarana, whatever that was — and tried them out. Of course, we’d had some of the Union coffee bar’s famous quadruple espressos just moments earlier — it was early in the morning and we were expected to go and talk meaningfully about Dido and Aeneas, after all — so adding a caffeinated sugar hit to that probably wasn’t wise. As it turned out, it wasn’t. My friend and I spent the course of the seminar looking around like startled squirrels and suffering from severe cases of the hand-shakes. And not in the greeting way. Generally speaking, if you have a come-down from a chocolate bar, it’s trying too hard.

There are plenty of other pieces of chocolatey goodness on the shelves of UK newsagents — I haven’t even started on chocolatey things that come in bags rather than bars, for example — but those were the first that sprung to mind. Not necessarily the best — and certainly not a patch on stuff from actual proper chocolatiers such as Hotel Chocolat and Thornton’s — but comforting, pleasant, chocolatey.

Happy Easter. Enjoy your chocolate, and stop just before you’re sick. Please.

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