My oldest son just returned from his first “formal” vacation as an adult. He flew out of O’Hare and spent a wonderful week in the mountains of Montana.
The friend he had gone to visit sent a delightful little box of chocolates back for me (which I thought was truly sweet). Like most women, I adore chocolate, although my preferences have changed [evolved?] over the last couple of years.
And being that I do not date much, I do not get chocolates often. Generally, my chocolate consumption is limited to “Death By Chocolate” ice cream (which I eat directly out of the carton) or the occasional “reward” of a Godiva bar which I will purchase at the grocery store and eat the whole thing before I even finish shopping (where upon I hand the empty wrapper to the cashier for scanning and disposal).
But when I popped open this little box of chocolate treasures, I found myself doing something completely odd even for myself….I would pick a chocolate, take a bite and put it back in the box….pick another and do the same thing.
I did have a little self control but not much. I did go back and eat the halfsies I left in the box later that night. However, that was the only time I did.
Over the last two days, I have gone into the kitchen, randomly picked one, took a bite and put it back.
It occurred to me that this is a rather odd behavior for me. I am not doing it in order to prevent someone from eating them nor am I doing it because I do not like them. I am just doing it because it seems like the right thing to do.
Maybe the old Forrest Gump saying “Life is Like a Box Of Chocolates…ya never know what your gonna get” really does apply. I take a little nibble and enjoy the chocolate and little crunchiness of the center (some of them have cookie, others candied ginger) and put the rest back to enjoy a little more later…no longer shocked by what is inside but capable of enjoying it for what it is and knowing what I am eating.
And maybe as a chef, it is a fitting analogy for my own cooking philosophy. I like to explore new recipes and flavors. But I also appreciate the comfort level I have with some old favorites. I love opening a cookbook and randomly picking something new try, not knowing what it will taste like and the anticipation my tongue feels. But I appreciate the fact that if I just want a comfort dish I can go right to something I have prepared a million times and know what I am getting long before I even start the dish.
I know that I can count on the Parmesan cheese being slightly salty when I make Alfredo sauce and that the amount of butter and heavy whipping cream in it will make a deliciously smooth and creamy coating for the fettuccine noodles. I know that if I am looking for the perfect topping for bread, all I have to have is roma tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, salt and basil.
So maybe this tiny box of chocolates is like a reminder to me that I need to explore a little more and be a little less hesitant to try new things…that the second time isn’t as thrilling as the first but without that first bite, you will never know what is on the inside.