Chocolate is more than a commercialized candy. It’s an aphrodisiac, an elixir of life, and a burnt gem of global, historical, cultural, and social essence. Read on for yummy detailed directions on how to mindfully eat chocolate in order to fully luxuriate in its rich appeal to all five senses.
To begin, unwrap two squares of your favorite dark chocolate, and place them within dinner plate-distance of you. Start to open your eyes to the first square with a child-like gaze. Feast your eyes on its shade of brown, its shape – smooth and round like a penny or maybe jagged and undefinable like a sweet rock. Observe whether it is shiny, glistening in the sun, or deeply dull.
Feel the chocolate, and examine its texture. Listen to the sound it makes when it breaks. Is it soft and moldable, or hard and brittle, creating a pronounced SNAP upon bending?
Guide the first square of chocolate to your nose, close your eyes, and inhale its scent as if it were a freshly-cut rose. Is there is a cotton-candy sweetness to it or are there are undertones of something fruity – maybe sugared plum, full-bodied honey, or baked apple? Or maybe you perceive warm decadence – notes of warm vanilla, smooth caramel, melting toffee, or baking spices.
Take the square to your mouth, and brush it against your lips before you gently set it on your eager tongue. Begin to let the chocolate melt, remarking at the release of any new and notable flavors. Do its bitter, burning coffee tones dominate or does something spicy play on your palate?
Cradle the square on your tongue and attend to its mouthfeel. Is the melting texture smooth and creamy or granular, stone-ground? Can you go farther and taste the chocolate’s earthy qualities – maybe the Hattian soil that nourished the cacao trees or the Guatemalan rays of sun that beat down upon its pods or the warm Dominican wood that housed the beans as their flavors developed. Can you taste something metallic from winnowing and tempering? Or is it simply cane-sugar sweet?
Now bite down on the melting chocolate and gradually chew, noting the birth of any novel tasting notes. Finally, swallow when the flavors have fully bloomed. Allow the aftertaste to sink in – perhaps something warm fills your mouth and something light fills your heart. Or maybe you just don’t like chocolate, and that’s okay too. If so, acknowledge and accept your weird, inhuman flaws.
After collecting your thoughts, cleanse your palate with fresh water, and repeat this process with the second piece of chocolate – look at it, touch it, listen to its breakage, smell it slowly, and taste it; let it melt, finally chew, swallow, and take it all in – all the while remaining attentive to differences in appearance, texture, sound, scent, taste, and personal effect compared to the other piece.
Let the reverberation of the chocolate’s consequences on your senses resonate. Take a moment to ask yourself how you feel when you fully taste your food. What would you notice if you always ate like this? Or what if you simply slowed down every now and then? Let these contemplations echo through your mind, and carry this sense of mindfulness and ease into the remainder of your day and the duration of your days to come.
Note: This mindful eating activity was adapted from and/or inspired by Lilian Cheung’s Mindful Eating principles, Walter Willett’s “3 Pleasures” advocacy, Carla Martin’s insight into the social origins of chocolate, and direction from a delicious tasting class at Hotel Chocolat in London.