Suddenly I see!

I’ve had one of those Damascene moments that remind you there is always something new to learn about liberalism and tolerance. It involves chocolate* and chicken. Bear with me while I watch the TV a minute.

On Channel 4 just now was Willie’s Chocolate Revolution. Willie, his wife Tania and their children Bunty, Tristram and Ezekiel (or something like that) live in a gorgeous Georgian house in Devon and make chocolate. And it only gets more annoying from thereon in.

For a start, Willie insists on calling cocoa “kacow”, according to the South American pronunciation. He sounds like a dairy farmer with an unconquerable stutter. Look, the word if you’re speaking English is “cocoa”, right? We don’t correct our raggedy old eighteenth-century pronounciations for any other foodstuffs.

This, in truth, would probably not irritate me by itself. What irritates me is the sight of an upper middle class man with a huge Georgian rectory (gee, and it’s before the watershed) raving about his intention to “educate” the British masses about “real” chocolate. “It’s about health, and real authentic tastes, and about me being someone who owns a farm in Venezuela telling people how to live in a more middle class manner,” he says, or words to that effect.

I suddenly realise that he’s a much more irritating and self-conscious version of Hugh Fearlessly-Eats-It-All, whose stout stand against the battery hen saw Tescos embarrassed late last year. I don’t get irritated by Hugh. But watching Willie it occurs to me that this is probably because I already like cooking. I already like eating vegetables most of the week and meat only two or three times. Nobody needs to convince me of the virtues of making stock from my Sunday chicken, or building a meal round whatever looks good at the market.

But by god, threaten to take my Mini Eggs away, and you will find me a formidable foe. I suddenly find myself thinking in Tory. “But I LIKE rubbish British chocolate! Don’t wanna be re-educated! Take your filthy horrid nasty pure 100% cocoa chocolate away!”

I’ve tried, I really have. I’m an inveterate chocolate eater, and leap at the chance to guzzle down other challenging flavours, so you’d think high-cocoa content chocolate would be a natural progression for me. Tried. Never got it. And the trouble is, whenever anyone says something like, “Oh but you simply must try insert-over-packaged-brand-here! You’ll love it – it’s organic/from Somerset/hand-knitted by impoverished Peruvian yaks!”, what they are implicitly saying is that you haven’t tried hard enough before. You have failed, Mortimer, in the matter of chocolate appreciation. That’s what they’re saying.

Well, I say ha. I say fie, and a pox on your nobby nasty chocolate. If you want to eat stuff that smells and tastes (yes, I know the difference, and how they interact) like it’s been scraped out of the grooves of a tyre just because it’s wrapped in very swish matt black packaging (where do these people’s eco-credentials go when it comes to the packaging, by the way?), be my guest. But I for one am quite happy wallowing in a trough of sugar, milk and fat and any perpetrators of further do-goodery in this matter will find themselves on the business end of a Twirl sharpish.

* With apologies to Stuart Sharpe, who is on the wagon (wheel) until Sunday.


  1. Why is this posted under pollyticks?

    I demand that everyone start a “torturing Jennie” tag for when they wish to rant on about chocolate at length

    yrs sincerely,

    the allergic party.

    And why am I now thinking “Susan thought that people could be quite at liberty to like daffodils if they wanted to, but shouldn’t be allowed to take up more than half a page to say so”?

  2. >”Willie insists on calling cocoa “kacow”, according to the South American pronunciation. He sounds like a dairy farmer with an unconquerable stutter. Look, the word if you’re speaking English is “cocoa”, right?”

    That was worthy of a special Twitter.

    Willie Wotsit is a bit more interesting than you think, even though he appears to have leapt fully formed from the Party in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

    I admit to eating a packet of Maltesers in a cinema last week next to someone who had given up chocolate for Lent. It was deliberate, and I justify my vice by claiming that it will help their virtue.

    On high quality chocolate, you’re wrong. Sorry.

  3. Yes, but the likes of Dairy Milk really are an inferior prodcut, & barely deserve the name chocolate at all? No one who had grown up on the real thing would want owt to do with them.

    I never understand this Spiked-esque reaction to everything. I am glad to have been given information about eating & living well, because otherwise I’d be some fat, miserable cunt.

    I admit I don’t eat the enormously high-cocoa stuff, but I do ask for more than the slops I’d find in my local newsagent. I can’t say I’ve ever fallen victim to “nudge” anyway, perhaps because I don’t move in such rarified circles!

    But I see no reason why the working class should be condemned to eating badly, especially as proper food is actually cheaper than takeaways etc. Some find the gourmet brigade patronising, but I eel more patronised by the likes of Brendan O’Neill telling me shit food is all I’m good for & eating it is some badge of authenticity.

    Of course your fancy gourmet stuff is often pointlessly expensive & basically the same as the value ranges. But you can buy stuff in bulk. I do a lot of my shopping in health stores & also in various forms of Asian & Polish places.

  4. Don’t want to sound like a cunt or owt, with the above. I’m just saying that I don’t feel your rage at situations like this & can’t understand the mechanisms behind it.

  5. I’m partly in agreement with you Alix. There’s some terribly over-priced (and in my view, not very nice tasting) ‘quality’ chocolate out there, and there’s some chocolate stuffed full of sugar and other things purists look down on that tastes lovely.

    But, sometimes I do stumble across ‘quality’ that really is quality, such as the fantastic tub of chocolate spread I got at the South Bank chocolate festival on Saturday. Now all eaten of course 🙂

  6. I’ll forgive you, Alix, since you made me (and the wife) laugh. Quite a lot.

    I look at it like wine, beer or coffee. There are people who care what they drink, there are people (like me) who just know what they like and drink it. Just because they can’t stand the cheaper stuff doesn’t mean that I can’t cope with it. That said, I am snobby about ready-made microwaveable dinners (but, let’s be honest, who isn’t snobby about that?).

    I actually like dark chocolate a lot. I’ll tell you what I dont’ like, though: Turkish Delight. That stuff is god-awful. My good lady keeps trying to making me try the stuff. Particularly when she’s got some gourmet expensive Turkish Delight lying around. I try to remind her that she doesn’t like chocolate (makes her ill), and would she like it more if I kept offering her gourmet chocolate?

  7. My favourite chocolate is the one with mixed fruit & spices from Green & Blacks.

    Also their milk chocolate is excellent. I don’t like the dark, but that’s just my weakness presumably 🙂

    There used to be a caramel kind that was really on fire, but it seems to have vanished.

    Bit of white never does any harm every now & then.

    Though in reality, I almost never eat the stuff. I just remember it whenever I do 🙂

  8. Chocolate is horribly jingoistic. The Belgians et al sneer at Dairy Milk, because it’s basically sweetened brown lard, but most Brits are quite partial. By the same token, I don’t know anyone born of these islands who actually likes Hershey, because it tastes faintly like someone’s been sick in it. Say that to a septic and they get very huffy indeed.

    In an ideal world we would probably all eat organically reared chicken that had a bedtime story every night and yogic massages but a) some people are too poor and b) it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility that it’s a battery chicken with different packaging that had a tape of Little Red Riding Hood on a loop in its shed and was once slapped by a swami and is now four times the price. Check out the wonderfully low bar set by food standards before rushing out to buy ‘organic’; most of it is a Great Big Joke at your expense, and that’s the buggers who adhere to the bloody things.

    And that’s before we get onto other excellent little cons like ‘fair trade’ which – instead of prising your money from you with the promise that vegetables that smell a little bit of wee are better for you – does it through pricking your post-colonialist western conscience and hopes you’ll never bother to look into the economics of it all.

    It’s all balls anyway. A truly sophisticated palate is one that can appreciate both the rare genius of specialist artisanal food and the rabelasian joy of a Big Mac meal.

  9. Well I was at Cadburysworld today so there! They don’t seem to have the Mr Cadbury’s parrot singing like they used to – and while I feared for my sanity at the prospect of hearing it again, now I am strangely disappointed.

  10. ‘Hugh Fearlessly-Eats-It-All’


    ‘raving about his intention to “educate” the British masses about “real” chocolate.’

    Well, in all fairness to the strangely-named fellow, British chocolate does have such a high sugar and oil content that on the Continent, it couldn’t legally be classified as chocolate, I was told. Also, given that other countries have been making chocolate long before us, they kind of do have a legitimate claim that dark chocolate is the ‘real’ chocolate…

    After a traumatic Christmas incident with a Rolo two years ago, I made myself stop eating British chocolate (screaming in pain = not a good look). Now, I don’t even miss it, much to my surprise!

    I have to ask: how do you eat the dark chocolate? I think the reason that a lot of people don’t like it is because they eat it in the way that they eat milk chocolate. That doesn’t work though, specifically because it’s darker and won’t yield up its flavours as easily! An ex taught me to sort of suck on a piece of dark chocolate slowly, and now I love it. That may help you to like it someday… 😀

  11. When I were a lad we didn’t have chocolate, and we ate anything. Anyhow milk chocolate doesn’t go with Islay Single Malt, so you need it as dark as you can get it. But why buy from the most expensive production source?

  12. His kids, too, they’re properly annoying.

    I love all that poncey dark kah-cowe business, always have done, the bitterer the better (especially when in the shape of an egg, enveloped by vast amounts of superfluous packaging), but am also sometimes inclined towards the old classic Fruit ‘n’ Nut option – largely because they are two completely different products, and such is the wonder of a free society that we can, astonishingly, choose which one, if either, we want at any particular time. And that’s where our rants collide – because I too get tired of bizarrely sanctimonious tossers appearing on television to lobby Normal People over what choices they should be making.

    Get back in the kitchen where you belong.

  13. Sockpuppet “it tastes faintly like someone’s been sick in it.”

    That’s exactly it! Bah, well, American chocolate’s *obviously* not really chocolate. Reese’s peanut butter cups on the other hand, are to die for (and, quite possibly, of).

    KJB, sadly “Hugh Fearlessly-Eats-It-All” is not a Mortimer original, can’t remember where I read it. Good though, isn’t it. And yes I’ve done the sucking thing, and the putting it under your tongue thing. Still don’t get it. The one thing I haven’t tried is eating chocolate while drinking whisky (as per Demetrius). Hmmm…

    I’ve just remembered one chocolate bar I had not long ago and *adored* was a milk chocolate bar infused with lavender. That was gorgeous, totally confusing for the palate in the best possible way. I think that shows I do love unusual chocolate. I just don’t like the stuff one is “supposed” to like. Green & Blacks chocolate tastes like a dusty cupboard to me.

    @Asquith, I certainly agree with you in that it’s fine – and liberal, in fact – to offer people the choice of different qualities and tastes (which was what Hugh did, as I recall, he wanted Tescos to stock Freedom Farmed chicken alongside battery stuff). But too many people cross the “sanctimonious tosser” line for my liking.

    @Matt “Chocolate is about the only thing left that we are allowed to be dogmatic about ”


    Joe, was Cadbury’s World fun or was it a let-down for the unreconstructed Cadbury lover, parrot absence apart? Would I feel an idiot going there without a small child? And if so, has anyone got one I can borrow?

  14. Alix, yeah you really need a child, of any size really – although strangely there were no fat ones there. But the content is aimed at them.

    Good points – they give you chocolate when you pick up your tickets, go in, and maybe at other times.

    The invention of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk is celebrated with a degree of pride, and quantity of content appropriate for the discovery of penicillin, or the space programme. Which is clearly not enough.

  15. I suppose now we know that the stuff is on sale at Waitrose you’ll have to go and prove that it is horrible or we will all believe that you are just jealous of the poshness…

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