On the Good Ship Chocolate

I find myself needing to turn to comfort food. You know those times when life leaves you feeling drifting, listing. Times when life’s guardrail is seemingly floating too far from your grasp. In those moments, you instinctively reach for what’s near, for what can stay you and satisfy you, at least temporarily.

And what can satisfy that well within you? What can fill the void better than food?

Of all the foods that I might crave, I am instinctively drawn to the one that both fills and fulfills. Chocolate. For what else can send those sensory impulses of purest pleasure to the brain quicker than chocolate?

I don’t recall the very first time I had chocolate, but I do remember the first time I introduced my first-born to an Oreo cookie. I have the photograph of his chocolate grin stretched from ear to ear, but I don’t really need it. That bonding moment is ingrained in my brain.

When I was young, my mother would make hot chocolate for my father using the hard, dry sheets of chocolate they frequently purchased. After heating a small pan of water, she would break off and add several squares, stirring as they melted. I was never tempted to drink it, but I would sneak into the fridge and break off a little piece when she wasn’t looking. The bitterness turned sweet as it melted in my mouth.

My childhood memories include running to the neighborhood store to buy a chocolate bar whenever I had a few pennies in my pocket. After passing the time with friends, I would head back home to curl up on my single bed with my book of the moment, to savor both the story and the chocolate. The candy somehow seemed to enhance my reading experience.

Eating chocolate has always been a soothing experience. A treat that never disappoints or fails to live up to its expectations. Unless, it is the wish that it last longer. In my quest to control my illness with diet as much as possible, I have jokingly referred to chocolate as my “medicine.”

Apparently, my thinking wasn’t entirely facetious. I’ve been reading how researchers are discovering that dark chocolate may have many beneficial properties. They state it can help protect your skin, quiet coughs and may even increase blood flow to the brain making you more awake and alert. So it could be I was right; the story did become more interesting to read while eating that chocolate bar.

But, what makes chocolate worth its weight in gold to me is that it enhances my mood. How can I feel bad while eating chocolate? For that little sliver of time, my ship is righted. I can hold fast and let my stresses dissolve along with the velvety stuff in my mouth. The only thing better than eating chocolate is eating it with someone you love.

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