Chocolate by Barbara Nadel

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Ever since I was a teenager I’ve had addictions. I’ve gone through times in my life when just the thought of a day without a drink, a packet or cigarettes or any number of pills and potions has been unthinkable. I’m not like that anymore, except at certain times, namely when I’m either worried or nervous.

Next week I have to do something that I find scary. I can’t go into it in a public forum like this, but it’s nothing dodgy or illegal, in fact it is something that I have good reason to feel very righteous about. But I’m frightened and because I’m frightened, an addiction has swung in. Not a biggie. I’m not quaffing bottles of gin. No, this time it’s my only food addiction: chocolate.

Oh, lord what can I tell you about chocolate? With most foods I have an ‘off’ button. I can only eat a very limited amount of meat or fish and anything else I just get bored with. But not the demon choccy. Yesterday a friend bought me a big bar of coffee flavoured chocolate which I shoved done in one and then went and had a chocolate mousse, a hot chocolate drink and a milk chocolate chaser. Even after all that I still found myself poking around looking for more. I mean I know that many women, hormonal creatures that we are, do have to do the old sweet things shuffle at certain times of the month, but I am excessive.

When times are hard a lot of people like to consume I find. Whether it is via ‘retail therapy’, raiding high street shops for handbags and pairs of jeans you don’t need, smoking up a storm, getting rat-arsed in a pub you don’t know or shoving food down your neck, there’s something about excess that brings comfort. Maybe it’s the ‘I don’t care’, fingers up to the world thing? It’s defiant. You can take my livelihood, my home and my cash but even if I have to beg for money, I’ll get monumentally wrecked anyway. Take that, whoever you are! Then again maybe it is just the comfort that comes from surrounding yourself with stuff and things. Food comes into this of course, in fact food is probably the most primitive commodity we can pad ourselves out with. In times of trouble our cave dwelling ancestors probably derived a lot of comfort and security from having the odd stash of Woolly Mammoth meat hanging around the stalactites at the back of the cave. There’s chocolate in the fridge and a stack of bars in the larder too and just knowing that they’re there makes me feel better.

Of course what one is or becomes addicted to is very individual. Why chocolate? Who knows? Maybe I was an Aztec in a previous life and came from a city composed of pyramids with lots of the letter ‘x’ in its name? Maybe when I was an infant I was deprived of sweet things? Of maybe I’m just a greedy git with an addictive personality? I don’t know and quite frankly, at the moment, I don’t really care much either. I’ll do anything and everything I have to in order to lessen my anxiety and if that involves stuffing down loads of chocolate, then so be it. For a time, at least, I have two patron saints and they are the Blessed St Cadbury and St Lindt of the Swiss Alps (which, if you’ve never noticed look remarkably like a giant Toblerone bar!)

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