My experience with chocolate started with Cadbury chocolate bars my family would buy at “Park ‘N Shop” supermarkets when we lived in Hong Kong. My father, a romantic and traditionalist, taught my brother & I the enjoyment of a fine afternoon tea when I was 8 years old. With my dad, I had learned how to sit still, eat my snacks without gobbling it down, all the while being nice to my younger brother. Yes, I was the kid who kicked my brother under the table all the time! Peering into our adult sized tea cups at eye level, Dad would show us how to stir milk into our cups from the milk jug, then gently plop a few cubes of sugar into our tea. I remember stirring the crap out of the tea with a silver teaspoon, adding a few more cubes and popping a few extra into my mouth to suck on. Boy, the crunchy sweet taste of sugar is the best! Ever so impatiently, my brother and I would wait for our tea to cool down and dunk Digestive biscuits into the tea for a soaking good bite. Yum… can you taste it?
But tea, as my father taught me, was more than just sipping tea and dunking biscuits. It was about experiencing a myriad of ways to taste flavors and aromas. This is what I remember from my 8 year old self…
With tea, you can have little pieces of chocolate (not to be gobbled at once), a plate of crackers (not to be shoved in your mouth at once), as well as little condiments and cheeses to spruce it up. The endless combination of crackers + chocolate, crackers + cheese, crackers + jam, or even crackers + jam + cheese + cracker on top, crackers + peanut butter… or even just the cheese or chocolate alone made us laugh out loud as we tried not to gobble down the goodies. Every combination of cracker + something was so delectable that my brother and I would keep making new combos even though we were full. After we’d made a mess on the table and stuffed ourselves right before dinner time, we would dutifully put everything away (“No, don’t put your finger in the jam!”, Dad would say). The lids go back on the jam, cheeses in saran wrap, fold up the chocolates in tin foil and put everything away in the fridge.
In Hong Kong, the humidity kills just about everything. Mold on cheese, I was taught, can be cut off so you don’t have to throw away the entire hunk! I miss spending times like this with my dad, the dreamer that reminds my brother and I to dream big, but always act, spend and live responsibly. This experience, with my dad, is when I was introduced to cheese (cheddar & gouda) and chocolates (cadbury, kit kat or m&m’s). Hey, I was 8. I’ve now expanded to mozzarella, humbolt fog, truffle cheese, brie and… artisan chocolate.
What’s your experience with cheese and chocolate? How were you introduced to it? Let me know by posting a comment!
Happy Fathers day!