Hot Chocolate Hunting

The call of the hazelnut hot chocolate (real nuts) had pulled me, salivating, from my hotel towards Clifton village one morning. Striding through the streets, drawing ever closer to my quarry, I tried to reconstruct the taste in my mind and in my mouth. I was only partially successful. Never mind, I thought, soon it will be cruising my palate.

The first clue was the lack of customers. Last time I stayed in Bristol the cafe was abuzz whenever I visited. The second clue was the lack of what amounted to a menu item reading thus: ‘One of the best hot chocolates in Cuttlefish’s known world’. The final and telling clue was the words, “We don’t do them any more,” uttered by the waiter.

‘Crushed’ is too strong a word. ‘Disappointed’ is about right. In the face of such a blow one must soldier on. I ordered a strong hot chocolate and a take-away white chocolate and orange tart.

It’s fun to look forward to or long for things but it helps if one has the flexibility to let go at the drop of a hat. Otherwise there are two sorrows. If the experience is unavailable one forgoes the pleasure and is not able to freshen the existing memory. If the experience is available but diminished, the disappointment and subsequent adjustment of a cherished memory are sometimes just troubled or sad. Has the item under review changed? Is one’s memory unreliable – was there an embellishment over the intervening time and what does that mean for other memory-related tasks? Has one changed oneself – become more cynical perhaps, less ‘delightable’?

 While I would have loved the recipe for the delicious white chocolate and orange tart so I could attempt a recreation at home, I decided not to become fixated on it. I enjoyed it as a single experience. If it’s there next time, it is; if not, I had the pleasure and there’ll be something new to try.

 The trick for me is seeing which experiences are open to repetition, for which ones I can bear changed outcomes and which ones simply stand alone and should not be tampered with.

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