I know you are thinking I always taste chocolate, or any other food, when I eat it. But… do you really? Do you really taste it? Do you think about it while you eat, enjoy, suck, or chew it?
Sometimes I eat food because it’s time to eat food. It’s lunch time and I need to refuel. Maybe I eat as I scroll on my phone, did I taste my food? Do I have a memory of its flavours? Hmmmm, maybe not always.
When I TASTE chocolate, I do so mindfully.
It is different from when I just eat chocolate, which I do for enjoyment, or maybe because I want some caffeine or maybe crave some sugar to get me through the afternoon. Which is all good. I don’t always taste chocolate.
When I do taste chocolate here is how I do it. This may work for you, it may not, but it is a common way to taste the flavours found in chocolate. There is no right or wrong way to taste or enjoy chocolate.
It’s been said that tasting chocolate is an experience, and it certainly can be. An experience that uses all of our senses.
- I use my mind. I choose what to taste. I intentionally choose one bar of chocolate, or several chocolates that have something in common. I might choose it because I like its orange wrapper, maybe today I want something made by a favourite maker, or I want to try something new to me. Whatever reason that bar or piece of chocolate was calling me that day, I want to truly enjoy it and taste it.
- I use my eyes. It is said we eat with our eyes first, and be that from the orange wrapper than caught my attention to the details of a chocolate bar’s design or colour, our eyes see it first as we open the package. I ask myself a few things in my mind at this stage. Does it look like I thought it would after reading the packaging? If not, what was I expecting? Does it look nice or is it all banged up and broken? Do I want to eat and enjoy this now?
- I use my touch. I open the wrapper. I choose the bar with my hands. I take the bar out of its wrapper and feel it against my skin. Maybe it has a texture to it, perhaps from the design or shape of it, or maybe it melts as I touch it. I feel the bar.
- I use my nose. This happens as I look at it, but is another step in enjoying the bar before it hits my mouth. I smell it. As I slide it out of its wrapper I inhale, deeply sometimes. Sometimes the smell is faint, and I hold it closer to my nose. I use my nose to smell it. This preps my brain and my tongue for the treat it will soon have. On occasion a bar may not smell like I think it should, or even worse a bar may smell mouldy and then my body may decide it is not the bar for me.
- I use my ears. Wait what? Ears? Really I have likely already used them, be it the ripping open of a cardboard wrapper, the tearing of a plastic (or non plastic compostable) inner wrap around the bar, or as the foil around a bar is pulled back, my ears notice it. Then, I take the piece of chocolate and break it, listening as I do. A nice snap is a sign the tempering is well done. Some bars have a softer sound when they break. This can be affected by many things, but generally with dark chocolate there is a snap or sharp sound as the bar breaks.
- I use my mouth. I put the piece of chocolate on my tongue and close my mouth. I let it melt on my tongue. This is sometimes the very hardest part. I let it melt knowing there is more possibility of tasting more than just one flavour in my mouth. I let it melt, slowly. Thinking about it in my mouth, how it feels as it (likely) melts on my tongue, paying attention to any flavours that pop out that I recognize. If I am lucky, I may taste three or more different flavours as the chocolate melts. If I am new to this, I may taste one strong flavour. It’s important to know there is no right or wrong when tasting. We each have different taste memories and experiences that we have ‘catalogued’ over our lifetime, so what I taste may be totally different than what you taste. That is okay. Totally okay. No judgement here. Enjoy whatever flavours come your way.
- I use my brain. I often write down these tastes as I taste a bar for the first time. Not always, as sometimes it is really nice just to experience a piece of delicious chocolate. Sometimes I take notes on my computer as well.
- I enjoy it. Really enjoy it. I sit with it, the flavours in my mouth, and everything I experienced as it melted in my mouth.
- I reach for more. Not always, but when I really like a bar, or am not sure what flavours I tasted I go back for more. If I loved it, or it surprised me, I definitely reach for a second piece.
As I said, there is no right or wrong way to taste chocolate.
This is just a way I prefer to taste chocolate. Sometimes I chew the chocolate and swallow, sometimes I take little bites and let the pieces melt on my tongue, sometimes I make it into hot chocolate, which I also taste, but differently since it is already in liquid form it is a different experience. More on that to come soon.
Here are a few examples of the different ways and places that I taste chocolate, all mindfully, using all my senses.
Do you have a favourite way to taste and enjoy chocolate? Maybe a favourite place or a favourite notebook to have on hand? Perhaps with a cup of tea or a glass of wine? I’d love it if you share in the comments!
Watch for more on tasting chocolate, resources to help as you begin to taste chocolate, and shopping for bonbons, truffles, filled chocolates, and chocolates soon.
Other articles in this series:
Chocolate Basics (terms)
Chocolate Basics ~ Chocolate Maker
Chocolate Basics ~ Chocolatier
Chocolate Basics ~ Mass Production Chocolate