Her love was bitter sweet and left a void after she was gone. The longing has seeded and only hope remains …….. will we meet again???
She was introduced to me by a close friend on a rainy evening, not so long ago. The company was a group of friends whom I collected from the airport after a fortnight holiday on Sicily. That first tantalizing impression she made on me I do recall vividly, as she was dressed in a shiny translucent orange dress against a background dark as the nights in “La Notte di San Lorenzo”. Nocturnal blues from a kind of vegetation or mural setting framed her like an goddess from a renaissance painting. I have to admit, it was love on first sight! Her head, o so slightly turned, chin a bit down so her eyes could flash up from under those whiskers. She knew she was beautiful, and she had to show it to me. That same day in the morning, she was a sitting in a cafe in via Torrearsa in Trapani, on the island of Sicily, Italy. The warm early sunlight that fell on her, reflected by the white houses in the street, made her stand out amongst the small group.
While having a cappuccino, she told my friend she was born on the other side of the island in Modica. A traditional village with family’s living a life of traditions. She was conceived and born in the back of the old chocolate shop. Memories of her father always busy with the hard and time consuming process of grinding the cacao beans on the Metate, a curved slab of stone. The sound of the stone rolling pin on the surface and the infusion of the air with the about 380 fragrances released from the dark beans, meant home for her. The Spanish domination in the 16 hundreds, still visible in her mothers eyes, brought the cacao trade from Mexico to the island. Roughly 3500 years earlier it were the “Mexican” Olmelken who already harvested their ‘Kakawa’, know to us as “cacao”. The Inca’s mixed it with water and sugar and it became an ancient sweet bitter energy-drink called “Xocoatl’ , which was flavored furthermore with herbs and spices.
Why do I tell all these factual things to you? I have to tell you the way I held her. How strong she felt and yet tender, fragile after her first layer came off, and she showed herself in her white under-gown. I knew this could not last forever. The tension before revealing all of her nakedness, all of her sweetness. Her eyes, sometimes gray, than green or was it a pale blue, are looking beyond me in the distance.
They seem filled with memories, wandering back in her mind, seeing her father adding the traditional vanilla or cinnamon to the fresh cacao paste, or even cardamon, marjoram or chilly, and sometimes the locally won salt flakes. He takes care never to warm the paste more than 40 degrees Celsius to maintain all the delicate flavor elements. Sweetening it with sugar crystals, turning it by hand into a pliable mixture before pouring it in the metal tins. Density is increased by slamming the tins on the counter-top, as cooling down sets in, the birth of another ancient chocolate classic is close.
That this lady has class you can tell by her “coat of arms”, two lions holding a shield with a capital “R’, from their family name; “Antica Dolceria Rizza”. It is even written in royal reds and blues all over her white gown , which is tightly wrapped around her body, showing every curve. Not a natural in these things, and a bit new to the Sicilian scene, I fumble a bit clumsy with her zipper. As physical demands finally take over, I tear with my teeth in hunger the with fabric from her brown frame. My breathing stops for more than several seconds ,……………………………. As the air fills with her perfume. I finally can breath again, but the complexity of odors is overwhelming, unknown parts of my conscious are called to life. Tender I hold her body with only my finger tips, a smile on my face as she melts in my hands.
The forces at hand are so rudimentary that my brain fails and only emotions remain. As I taste her brown skin it is like nothing before, this is gorgeous. When taken a deeper bite the structural texture breaks down and falls in little elements apart, crystallized sugar tumbles over nutty flavors and dark earthy cacao tones. In an instant I am back in the South American jungle.
Drinking the Aztec “XOCO-ATL”, the bitterness hits me like a rock, but with every sip I gain more strength and confidence. Stripped down naked with not much more than some cacao leaves I am ready to dominate the world. As the Aztecs did indeed, ruling over their world and demanding the Maya’s to deliver the precious cacao beans to their pyramid doorstep.
What is this lady doing to me, memories from past lives emerge to the surface, what is this stuff? Eating the chocolate the taste is fantastic, not clouded by extra added cacao butter or vegetable fats, it is plain and yet so complex. The much drier and coarser texture is so different from modern chocolates, which is heated into a homogeneous fatty mass. This is back to basics, back to honest love for the things you do and make.
Enjoying our last moments together, nibbling on the last bits, I try to take in every part of her to feed my memory. Within moments she is gone. Sweet as it was, it is bitterness that remains on my tongue for the rest of the day. All she left is her image, wearing an orange dress printed on a black card-box. I feel blue, how could it be over so quickly.
Did I ran out of luck, or was I just very lucky meeting her? Will I see her again? Only time will tell me, but wait ………, on the box I see her phone number. Who said I was out of luck, so sorry I have to stop writing, I have a call to make.
With love from the Dutch Cook
Modica choclate history in Italian http://www.verysicily.com/prodottitipicisiciliani/index.php/cioccolato-modicano/56-cioccolato-di-modica-le-sue-origine-e-storia
For sale even in Japan http://item.rakuten.co.jp/paradiso-i/10000125/#10000125
The Matate grinding stone http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/aztefacts/daily-grind