Sunday, April 6, 2008

Losing My Nutella Virginity

Photo courtesy of Siladeth @ Flickr

Nutella: Fancy chocolate condiment, or just a big batch of frosting in a jar?


I've finally tried Nutella. I'm 48, by the way, so I'm very late to the Nutella game. I never much craved it, because, I've never much craved anything chocolate. Oh, I like chocolate well enough, but ::gasp:: chocolate bores me. Always has. I'm the gal who will order the creme brulee EVERY time, or the bananas foster, or the caramel cake. I never, EVER order the Molten Lava Chocolate Cake or Death by Chocolate dessert. :::Yawwwwnn:::

There are both psychological reasons and culinary reasons, but mostly, it's just because chocolate always tastes like ... chocolate. Vanilla, on the other hand, can take on a whole HOST of flavors, and act as both the star (beautiful vanilla beans scraped into heavy cream and eggs, oh my) or just the back up (any dessert is improved by a dash of vanilla extract -- and lately I've added a splash of vanilla extract to my steel cut oats -- excellent).

I learned this young. My father used to take the entire family on long road trips every summer as part of his job, so we were forever having a picnic lunch in the park, snacks in the car, and fruit stand pit stops. Mostly out of a love of snacks and picnics -- my Dad was always game for either -- but we were a big family in a car traveling over the nation's highways for hours at a time. Sometimes you need to throw cookies at the barbarians in the back (that would be me and my siblings) to shut them the hell up.

On one particular trip, my Mom took over the wheel for awhile, and my Dad sat in the front seat with a bag of gas station candy: Coconut Haystacks, to be exact. A combo of chocolate and vanilla in a big cellophane bag. He reached in and held out a haystack over the seat to four kids in the back seat.

"Who wants chocolate?" He said.

"Me! Me! Me!" yelled everyone in the car, in unison. Now, with four kids, his wife, and himself, a handful of chocolate haystacks was not going to divide evenly, or go very far, and he liked chocolate for himself.

My Dad was a smart guy, and crafty. Witness this Mark Twain-esqe / Tom Sawyer like moment:

"Okay, but, I'm saving the vanilla for Kate...she likes those best and those are for her. The rest of you can share the chocolate."

That was me. Ohhhhh, I DO like vanilla best. Don't I? Yes, I must, because he just said I did.

Wait. Do I? When did this happen?

Then I realized this was a ploy -- to keep the peace. My Dad was sending me a message, that he needed me to be less selfish, ungrateful, than the other children. Less bad. I was selected to be the good child. The most loved child. The child who took the minority selection, thus helping my Dad keep peace in the car, and have his own favorite. I was the good girl if I was The Vanilla Girl. I remember giving my Dad a VERY meaningful look (as meaningful as someone perhaps 7 or 8 can give anyone else who probably doesn't have a clue he's receiving said meaningful look):

Yes. I accept this role. I will help you with this. I will be the good girl, the best child, the most loving child, because I will help you keep the peace with coconut haystacks.

"Yes Daddy! I want the Vanilla."

"Good girl."

See? There it was. Proof. I WAS THE GOOD GIRL IF I LIKED VANILLA BETTER. "So that's how this game is played" I thought to myself. "You other losers in the back seat don't have a clue I'm the favorite, now. Hmph." I quietly and smugly chewed vanilla coconut candy mountains. I would keep this information to myself as not to hurt them unnecessarily.

Thus began my life long preference for Vanilla-Anything, which pretty much has stuck with me all these years, and prevented me from having little, if any, desire for Nutella. Shrug. Meh. A big jar of chocolate goo. And it tastes like hazelnuts? Pass. The only experiences I've had with hazelnut flavor, which were both very unpleasant, was a) a big bowl of hazelnuts at my grandmother's house which had gone rancid and had worms, and b) hazelnut flavored syrups and non-dairy creamers. That stuff is noxious (as are most non-dairy flavored creamers), so I consequently associated anything both chocolate AND hazelnut as being doubly noxious.

Today, I made a piece of toast and reached into a jar of tiny restaurant paks of jams to search for a peach jam. Drat. Gone. But here was a tiny picnic sized single-serving of Nutella. It was probably 2 years old, but who knows, I thought it might still be good, and didn't someone once tell me to use it on toast, first? Yes, they did. May as well try it and get it over with. And tried it I did.

You know what? It's pretty good. First, I tasted no fake nut flavor, so we're okay on that score. Second, it isn't greasy or heavy, it's thick and creamy, which is good. It didn't separate, it was fully incorporated. Which is also good. It doesn't take like pale flavorless milk chocolate, OR, dark dark chocolate (I admit I'm not a dark chocolate fan). For being two years old (which is kinda scary that it was still perfect), this Nutella stuff is, all and all ... NOT bad at all. I think it would be good swirled in muffins, as I've seen on so many pretty blogs, or inside a croissant if that's your thing.

But, let's be clear: This is NOT a condiment.

I admit it's pretty tasty, but, you chocolate fiends are kidding yourselves, because you know damn well Nutella is just a big jar of frosting; a big jar of soft spreadable candy bar, and you are BAD, BAD, BAD children for pretending otherwise.

1 comment:

  1. Nutella is the bomb-diggity.

    As always, your stories crack me up.