It is time to admit to an addiction. Of course, this isn’t one that requires a daily dosage – so, maybe then that makes it a quasi-addiction or a fair-weather addiction. And, it is a very common human one, one not so much found in other animal species. There are many human addictions: we are addictive creatures, and the problem occurs when it controls your life while you lose control over it. All placeness is lost when this happens.
That makes it so much more placeful when you can find fulfillment in an unlikely place, and it comes from out of the blue.
On our way into an upstate New York movie theater to watch an Oscar-nominated film, we stopped at the candy counter. Just as an aside, we rarely go to movie theaters; but when we do, we never stop at the candy counters because what they contain – overly processed and -sugared fare – is not what we seek. But, in this particular theater, where not just the lowest common denominator is offered, there were some strange vegan treats that had that hand-made look. Lucky Chocolates. We opted for the quite large peanut-butter cup, to share.
Let’s just say, it was wonderful. Dark, real-tasting chocolate – ganache, really – generously coating about an inch-thick cup of honest-to-goddess peanut butter (maybe it was also handmade, since it tasted like the real deal). Not too sweet, allowing the bitterness of the chocolate to coat your mouth instead of the usual sickening sugar residue that accompanies most mass-produced candy. Almost more of a food than a dessert, but sweet in a subtle way, satisfying and yummy. That treat may have made me enjoy the film even more than I already did.
After the movie ended, we studied the label: Where did this food of the goddesses come from? Saugerties, New York. We went to their website, handily printed on the wrapper, and discovered that they are not just reinventing the peanut-butter cup – they make everything! From their website: “Handmade, luxurious, small batch chocolates made from organic and fair trade chocolate.” If you read on you see that there is consciousness and ecumenical awareness behind the creation; I would say intelligent design, if that term weren’t so loaded. I had eaten a total of one half of one item that they made, and I was already a devotee.
On our way to Saugerties (of course we had to go), the excitement was high. Would they have other things we liked? Was this a one-off experience with the movie candy? We were full of anticipation. The storefront was nestled in a block of 19th-century shops along one of the town’s main drags. Surrounded by small cafes, a bookstore, and various thrift and antique shops, there was a red canopy covering the windows, with gold horseshoes painted on the glass. It is a “chocolateria,” it said. Its look was old-time-y and new-age-y, all at once.
Inside, the scent of chocolate had the same sort of effect as walking into an opium den. The smell was seductive and heady and had permeated every dark-wood and glass display case that cannily resembled the ones at the corner store from my childhood. Candy is on one side, toys are on the other; mostly retro toys. The place reeks of nostalgia. I am hooked.
There are so many choices, I was overwhelmed. Categories of food preferences and/or allergies, and belief systems – and it is all tied up in a small or large chocolate confection. We chose a variety of offerings, a sampling. There are funny labels like “For Dudes,” a tray of car- or tool-shaped candies. Our purchases were placed neatly into adorable boxes. As I looked around, I noticed a soda fountain at one end, closest to the kitchen area. They also have homemade drinks, juices, egg creams. This place is a throwback that looks forward. That describes me, too. I want to stay.
So, now for the proof (even without pudding): We are only partway through our chocolate treasures and not one has disappointed. Some have reached heights that had not been thought attainable: the raspberry truffles, the turtles, the honey truffles, the mint patties, the vegan lime-ginger truffles. Can we eat them all before they get stale? Can we mete them out and pretend to be adults? Can the spiritual be found in chocolate? Placeness. I have found it and it resides in the Hudson Valley.