LET INGA TELL YOU:
At my granddaughter’s first birthday, her mother tore off a small piece of the baby-sized chocolate cake and gave it to her. My granddaughter ignored it, picked up the cake itself, and buried her face in it. I knew absolutely at that moment that my genes had been thrown forward.
Over the nine years I’ve been writing this column, chocolate has been a frequent topic. I’ve written about research studies (undoubtedly paid for by Nestles) that extol the health benefits of chocolate, particularly one that maintains that chocolate increases brain function. I have this study framed on my wall.
I have reported that, unknown to any but the most dedicated wrapper-reading chocoholics, one can supply 100 percent of one’s daily calcium, riboflavin, protein AND fiber requirements (never mind a whopping 50 percent of your daily iron) with only 25 vending machine-size packages of M&Ms — all with no trans-fats and staying well within your daily sodium and cholesterol allotments.
In a column about Nutella — a divinely rich chocolate-and-hazelnut heroin — I revealed my should-be-patented method for getting a half of a large tub of Nutella out in one tablespoon. (It involves burying the spoon into the Nutella jar about five inches up the handle. Then with dedicated practice (it’s all in the wrist), one twists the spoon until a giganto glob of Nutella at least three inches in diameter is wrapped around it.) In Inga’s world, this still counts as restricting oneself to one tablespoon of Nutella per day.
I’ve attributed my inability to lose weight to the Lindor Truffles commercial: “Do you dream in chocolate?” You betcha. That’s what sabotaging my dietary efforts: It’s all that chocolate I consume in my sleep. My ever-skeptical primary care physician suggested I should consider eating less chocolate in my sleep and while I’m at it, start exercising in my sleep as well. She just never lets up.
I have been promised that at my funeral, some seriously unflattering (actually downright vicious) chocolate stories will abound. Which, of course, is why I’ve tried hard to get my own versions of the chocolate stories in print while I’m still above the grass. (Leaping upon my startled ten-year-old and shoving my fist half way down his esophagus to retrieve my Mrs. Field’s cookie was a reasonable act. He already ate his. That was my cookie!)
The kids will relate how I had them hide the Halloween candy from me but then rifled their rooms for it when they were at their dad’s. Or when they went out Trick o’ Treating, I had them stop by the house from time to time to dump out their bags so I could poach the Mini Mounds Bars.
Anyway … when the grandkids are here, it is already an inviolable tradition that in the morning, Baba (that would be Olof) gets up early with them and makes Baba Pancakes — a choice of chocolate chip or blueberry. Suffice to say, my granddaughter only ever wants chocolate chip.
Over Labor Day, I stupidly bought the chocolate chips a week early somehow deluding myself that I wouldn’t eat them. I truly do not keep chocolate in the house, because it calls out to me. Really loudly. In fact, it refuses to shut up.
As the Labor Day weekend approached, Olof couldn’t help but notice that there seemed to be fewer chocolate chips in the bag. He left a note one morning: “Inga – Rats have gotten into the chocolate chips again. Better call Pest Control or there aren’t going to be any left for the kids!”
So, I did the only reasonable thing. I finished off that bag and bought another one, penitently handing it over to Olof with instructions to hide it.
One thing Olof was clear about: I wasn’t the only one from whom he had to hide chocolate chips. Our 8-year-old granddaughter is a mini-me where chocolate is concerned. As I was tucking her in one night, she whispered conspiratorially that she knew where Olof put the chocolate chips but couldn’t reach them. But, she added, I could. We could split the stash 50-50, leaving enough for breakfast.
As tempting as this was, even I was loath to corrupt the morals of a minor. I advised that we wait until after the last breakfast then tear the house apart if necessary.
I told this story a few minutes later to Olof, mentioning that I hadn’t gone for the granddaughter’s plan, however tempting. The chocolate chips were safe. Olof laughed. “Of course, they are,” he said. “I’m on to you two.” He had already moved them from the hiding place my granddaughter had seen, assuring me with a satisfied smirk that we would never find them. And we didn’t.
But Thanksgiving is coming and grandkids will be back. Olof may think there’s a place in this house where chocolate chips cannot be found. We will prove him wrong.
— Inga’s lighthearted looks at life appear regularly in La Jolla Light. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org