My mother is a sweet-toothed snob. She doesn’t waste her time, or caloric intake, on low-quality chocolate. She is a dark chocolate fiend and finds her fix at the Godiva counter at any department store. I’ve inherited her build, her temperament and her passion for the infamous aphrodisiac.
Desserts in my family have always been a reward or an unexpected present, reserved for occasional weekend nights and special celebrations. For my First Communion I had a decadent chocolate cake from Alden Merrill. The physical bread meant little to me, the sour-smelling wine even less, when compared to the stunningly sweet pastel packaged neatly in a cardboard box and stored safely in the basement refrigerator. I can still picture myself carving into the smooth fudge that formed the outer layer of the cake. The contrast between my crisp white dress, with its eyelet detail and simple lace ribbons, and the mouth-watering brown-black icing made the moment of the incision even more dramatic and appealing. I’d waited all day for a wedge of my celebratory sustenance. Size most certainly does matter: Sliver, slice, piece, wedge and chunk are the typical portions into which we cut pies, pastries and especially cake. I cared little about the money awaiting me in the religious cards stacked on the mahogany table in my living room. This cake was heavenly, and to the horror of the nuns who educated me, I could not help but use the word orgasmic.
Experts argue about the effects of chocolate on sexual drive and the psychological factors that influence how people justify their intake of cacao beans. I know high dosages consumed quickly cannot be healthy, but sometimes gorging seems all too necessary. My first trip to Finale Boston, soon after it opened in 1998, was a gluttonous pilgrimage. Next month the famous desserterie will bring its rich mousse and divine Grand Marnier ice cream to Harvard Square. The temptation to celebrate every accomplishment with a light tiramisu or creme brulee will be hard to overcome. Clearly my budget constraints will limit the frequency of my indulgences. But part of the allure of dessert has always been its special occasion-only status in my family. While “orgasmic” may be an exaggeration, the familiar taste, texture and ingredients of my favorite sweets combine to literally warm my body. I may now be doomed to eternal damnation, but at least it will be death by chocolate.