Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Chocolate Mom

The Oxford English Dictionary traces the term chocoholic (n. and adj.) back to 1961. So late? My mom was born in 1919, and she's been one all her life. If only one of the OED editors had met her! By the way, the OED editors, fearing we might not understand, note that the term is formed from chocolate and -holic as in alcoholic. Glad they cleared that one up. (And BTW, I am positive our family used that term before 1961.)

I cannot remember when my mother did not crave chocolate, and that's because I wasn't born till 1944, and she'd already been an addict for twenty-five years.  In our house, we had dessert with every meal but breakfast, and the dessert was invariably ice cream--with chocolate sauce on top. We almost always got vanilla ice cream because Dad didn't really care for chocolate--and money was tight. So Mom would make her own chocolate sauce with that Hershey's powdered stuff that came in the sort of can pictured here. It had a metal lid that wasn't easy to lift. Mom had no problem. Passion awards dexterity. (We also, from time to time, tried Neapolitan ice cream--with three equal chunks of vanilla-chocolate-strawberry--but nobody liked the strawberry part, so we gave up on it.)

Mom would heat the powder-and-water mixture on the stove-top, then pour the hot sauce over her vanilla ice cream. Heaven.

My brothers and I had learned--somewhere? don't remember where--that if we stirred our ice cream vigorously, it would transform its texture to something more or less resembling what came out of the machine at Dairy Queen. Mom thought this was too crude for the dinner table and proscribed it, so we had to do it when her back was turned. But then--one magical day--we persuaded her to try it, and that was a life-changer for her. From then on she also stirred her vanilla cum Hershey's with an impressive determination until she had something that looked like Dairy Queen chocolate. Heaven.

Which, by the way, is what she would always order when we were traveling. Out on the road, she could get real chocolate out of the machines--not that ersatz stuff she stirred back at home. When we were living in Hiram, she and Dad, after supper, liked to drive (at 20 mph--a speed not pleasing to the adolescents in the back seat) up to Burton, Ohio (about 12 miles due north), where there was a soft ice-cream place on the square. Mom would always get chocolate--except during maple-syrup season when she would cave and get the maple ice cream, which was, in a word, Heaven.

My brothers and I, by the way, were not chocoholics. Yes, we all liked chocolate, but we could get by without it. Still, we had favorite candy bars. Mine was Snickers; Richard's, some sort of Peter Paul candy (Almond Joy?); Dave's, 3 Musketeers (I think). But, as I said, we could live without them.

Mom couldn't. A sure-fire gift for her birthday, Mother's Day, Christmas.

Mom also kept Oreos in the house. And chocolate chip cookies. Or tried to. She hid them in various venues around the house (my favorite: inside the pressure cooker deep inside one of the bottom kitchen cabinets), but hungry adolescent boys will find anything edible, and we did. I'm ashamed to admit that we sometimes ate them all--and then had to deal with Mom's disappointment/rage/etc. when she reached for the pressure cooker and realized it felt a little ... light.

As I said, giving Mom chocolate for special occasions was a no-brainer. And still is. Over the years we were always giving her books and clothing (she loved Pendleton wool) and things to hang on the wall and jewelry and perfume and ... you know. Chocolate remained a staple, though. And how about this? One of her favorite meals (perhaps her very favorite) is salmon. Well, brother Richard once found and gave her a chocolate salmon. And that, my friends, was the greatest of mega-hits with Mom.

And is it a coincidence that she has lived for the past ten years or so only minutes away from a restaurant called Chocolate Springs in Lenox, Mass.? And can you guess where we invariably go when we are in town to see her? Her freezer and fridge and cupboards are chockablock with chocolate.

Now that Mom is 94 and in an assisted living unit, her world has shrunk considerably. No more Pendleton wool (she's in her sweat-suit phase of life); no more books (she can't keep focused--and her eyes are weak); no more things to hang on the walls (we're getting rid of same); no more programs or upgrades for her computer (she hasn't been able to use it in several years).

Chocolate, however, remains. Until very recently, my brothers could take her to a local Friendly's for you-know-what, but it's nearly impossible to take her out now. So Dick and Dave take her Fribbles and a Wendy's Frosty now and then. And her birthdays and Christmas are almost exclusively chocolate. She still loves it with all her heart. Chocolate Santa is very generous.

The past few years we've been sending her these amazing Taza chocolate bars (pictured below) from a company in Somerville, Mass., on the edge of Boston, where my two brothers live (one in Lexington, the other in Dorchester). They are great--in fact, they're so good that I'm thinking I might become a chocoholic. I would be in good company ... the best, actually. (Link to their website)

No comments:

Post a Comment