Tag Archives: Chocolate

Heroic Hot Chocolate

Image by David Mark from Pixabay.

The words, “hot chocolate,” conjure up rosy-faced children, fresh from sledding, consuming steaming beverages.

Or lady BFFs indulging in chocolaty froth during bonding sessions that have baffled men since forever. 

Speaking of men, when was the last time you saw one order hot chocolate at Starbucks? Or anywhere?

They drink mocha lattes with whipped cream. Perhaps eggnog or hot buttered rum in similar foamy dress.

But hot chocolate?

Perish the frou-frou thought.

Yet throughout centuries, warriors and adventurers have favored chocolate beverages. Made with cacao beans and water, xocolātl was considered sacred by ancient Mayans.

The real chocoholic, though, was an Aztec: Montezuma II. He drank 50 golden goblets of bitter chocolate — often spiked with chili peppers — daily to emphasize his wealth, power and virility. Did Montezuma impress the ladies with his chugging ability?

Maybe. He certainly kept the keepers of the royal chamber pots busy.

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Visiting Spaniards decided Montezuma shouldn’t keep this fabulous drink — or his kingdom — to himself. After the conquest, Hernán Cortés recommended Aztec chocolate to European friends. The Spanish, who preferred their chocolate heated (the Aztecs drank it cold), doctored it with cream and spices. Soon, chocolate houses appeared all over Europe.

Chocolate’s strong flavor disguised additives that caught the attention of Inquisition authorities. Associated with witchcraft and seduction, those chocolate scenarios weren’t so sweet.

Hot chocolate’s changeable reputation didn’t detract from its ability to nourish Ninja-types. American soldiers have been issued chocolate/cocoa since the Revolutionary War. Roald Amundsen, not content with freezing his bones in his native Norway, took huge quantities of cocoa to the South Pole. More recently, when American Will Steger and company made the first 4,000-mile dog-sled trip across Antarctica, they consumed 2,000 cups.

Hot-chocolate courage doesn’t always make headlines. Who can deny the heroics of three Washington kids who, with their mighty hot chocolate stand, raised $100 for the hungry?

Image by uknowgayle from Pixabay.

However, hot-chocolate fans occasionally get in trouble. Take, for example, the homeless Oregon man who soaked in someone else’s hot tub. According to The Oregonian, he yelled for towels, a hug and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

The Inquisition would have loved that one.

Fortunately, hot chocolate’s still fun for sledding kids. For women who bond over anything chocolaty and chatty. For men who dare sneak Snickerdoodle Hot Cocoa at Starbucks when nobody’s looking.

Heroic for all who scrape icy windshields, shovel driveways — and those of others — then drive icy roads to work. Even for writers who ditch calorie-less black coffee and drink hot chocolate, a truly heroic effort to experience research firsthand.

In the name of bravery, adventure and double whipped cream, hot chocolate warriors, let’s raise our steaming mugs high.

Cheers!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What’s your favorite hot chocolate recipe?

Popcorn and Me

Not many foods remain friends for life. Chocolate turned traitor during my teen years as I fought the Pimple Wars and later put on pounds. But popcorn has always been there for me.

My family owes its survival to popcorn. Mom faced two snack choices: a bale of hay or a dishpan-sized bowl of popcorn. While she threw handfuls of yellow seeds into a pan, we gathered close, quiet as if attending a theater performance — until the first pop pinged. Suddenly kernels exploded in a mad dance of joyful pop-pop-pops. A few sneaky ones fooled Mom and leaped out when she removed the lid — a punch line we enjoyed as if it had never happened before.

Fresh wonder filled me at seeing hundreds of fluffy white kernels, a miracle that rivaled the Feeding of the Five Thousand. If only candy bars multiplied like that!

As cornfields surrounded our house, I became convinced we were not utilizing a huge, free popcorn resource. My mother disagreed. But I filched an ear from a neighbor’s field and set it on fire anyway. Sadly, Mom was right — again.

Later we grew our own popcorn, including a “strawberry” variety. Hoeing the plants, I imagined the pink strawberry-sucker-flavored popcorn we would savor. At harvest, we shucked wine-colored kernels off little cones and waited breathlessly as Mom popped this amazing new treat. Only red hulls evidenced anything different about strawberry popcorn. After initial disappointment, though, we made a hit at school with our special red-and-white popcorn.

But the popcorn my siblings and I really craved was Jiffy Pop®. On TV commercials, smiling kids watched it rise like a silver Space Age balloon. I was sure the Jetsons ate Jiffy Pop®. Mom, however, vetoed it as too expensive.

When I, too, became a mean mother, plain old popcorn remained my friend. My children gathered as kernels tumbled in the air popper. Like my mother, I poured sizzling butter over theirs. Mine? I ate handfuls that tasted like Styrofoam packing peanuts. But they filled me up and kept me from expanding as much as Jiffy Pop®.

Now, growing older, I still cling to popcorn. Even the Jetsons would envy my microwave method. However, the time saved is used to read popcorn cautionary commandments on every bag, probably more than accompanied the original atomic bomb: HANDLE CAREFULLY: VERY HOT OIL & BAG! THIS SIDE UP! THIS SIDE DOWN! PICK UP HERE! PICK UP FROM OTHER END! OPEN CAREFULLY! HOT! CAUTION! OR YOU WILL DIE VERY, VERY SLOWLY WITH RADIOACTIVE POPCORN UP YOUR NOSE.

Is that any way to talk to a friend?

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What are your favorite popcorn memories?

Airport Insecurities

airport-1515448_640-2The more Homeland Security tries to protect me at airports, the less secure I feel.

I appreciate their efforts. But my mother taught me to hang undies on clotheslines behind shirts, not display them to an airport’s entire population.

Some passengers appear comfortable with security procedures. A toddler accompanying Daddy at check-in attempted a striptease.

A young man in a nearby security line entertained a similar viewpoint. Clad only in overalls, he suddenly slid out of them. Grinning as passengers and officials gawked, he ambled through X-ray, wearing skinny shorts he’d concealed underneath.

As if that little surprise weren’t enough, the Weird Wand Committee greeted me for the umpteenth time this year.

Airports never have put me at ease. The hallways always resemble a buffalo stampede. Paying more than air fare for coffee and a muffin made me see red long before Red Level threats ever existed.

peanut-butter-cups-1021876_640However, I can’t escape the worst threat to my security: me. At a newsstand, I heard REESE’S Peanut Butter Cups, like sirens, calling my name. Hypnotized, I answered — then put the candy down, determined not to blow my diet. I bought a newspaper and exited, playing human bumper cars on my way toward Security.

As I searched in my purse for ID and boarding pass, I discovered a REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup!

My evil stomach had bypassed my brain and shoplifted candy.

No alarms sang, rang or buzzed, no lights flashed when I walked out. No steel doors blocked store exits, no iron cages dropped from the ceiling. No soldiers poked bazookas in my back. Where was the FBI? the CIA? Interpol? What kind of security system allows a dangerously unbalanced chocolate/peanut butter klepto to run loose in our nation’s airports?

The peanut butter cup emitted seductive fragrances, and I nearly gave in. But I forced myself back to the store, where I set up surveillance. While the clerk scanned merchandise like a robot, I slithered in and hid behind half-price pink polka-dotted luggage, sneaking candy from my purse. Studying the National Enquirer’s front page (did you know Elvis is one of Donald Trump’s children?), I sneaked the REESE’S Peanut Butter Cup back among its own wicked kind. Then I headed for Security before my degenerate stomach could grab a dozen more.

They haven’t learned how to x-ray consciences yet, have they?

Okay, ’fess up: what’s your least favorite airport story?

 

OMG, It’s Monday! Prayer: The Day After

Oh, my God, it’s the day after Easter, and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs are 50 per cent off. I’m celebrating all over again! But, Jesus, what did you do the day after Easter? Take a day off? You certainly deserved it. Did You surprise Your mom? OMG, what a hug that must have been!