Imagine the conversation:
"What do you want to be when you grow up?"
"I dream of being a bombonera."
(Bombonera-Person in charge of creating and making chocolates) It is one of the options that isn't bandied about in college brochures, but should have seen some proliferation with the release of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, as the candy man can do what other mortals can't.
Cacao Sampaka, an artesanal chocolate factory, is located in Barcelona, where its small factory produces the delicacies pedaled in its branch locations: Madrid, Berlin, Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, and Valencia. The company commands the process from bean to palate, and aims to "create a whole new language of forms and flavors," limiting itself to only one medium.
I sat back in my chair and took a small nibble. The dark chocolate crumbled chalkily in my mouth and onto my tongue, where it stayed, trying to decide whether to be smooth or bitter. Once the shell dissolved against my palate, the strong taste of salt came through as I bubbled my tongue in an attempt to discern the flavor. Ham? Soy sauce?
Another nibble. The same dominance of salt over chocolate, and the sensation of something cured triumphed. It tasted like the legs of ham in bars smell--dense and organic, and somewhat sickening.
"Your chocolate was a mix of anchovy and vinegar." Anchovy. I like trying to imagine the bombonera who braved the possible chagrin of his colleagues to suggest, in a brainstorming session, that the company try something different. Something new. Something untried. And, crossing and re-crossing his legs, managed to spit out what he'd been thinking.
"Fish. I think we should mix fish and chocolate and see what happens."
Making artesanal chocolates appears to be not unlike working as a WXPN dj (a public radio station that doesn't earn its means from commercial investors, but instead from listeners, lowering the popular pressure to play certain genres). Sometimes the selections are challenging, resulting in an almost irrepressible desire to lunge for the dial and end the death throes of that particular cat. But you stick around, learning to enjoy the music for what it is, instead of berating it for what it isn't. And other times, what is played is selected to be outrageous, in the hopes of having something to talk about.
We finished savoring our chocolates, using new vocabulary words to describe various subtleties and tones. With new sounds connected to ideas like smooth, bitter, sour, without salt, the chocolates took on new dimensions, exploding like cap guns on both senses and language.
Rosana, brandishing a chocolate, reminded us "These aren't meant to be eaten one after another. You can eat one or two of these with a cup of coffee, or a good glass of wine. They're for tasting."