Comedian and food-fiend Jessica Fostekew puts her mouth where others fear to tread. A celebration of eating: from posh nosh to kebab shops to stuff that’s been on the floor. This week the UK and Belgium have a chocolate-off.
When I told a friend what I intended to do in this article, he said, “Just don’t call it your chocolate column”. It was meant as a warning on the grounds of taste – all I heard was a wonderful idea.
I’ve always lived in the UK, about as far away as you can get from the tropical parts of earth where chocolate grows on trees. Despite that, I believe we have the easiest access to the best chocolate in the world. I don’t mean in specialist shops, but on supermarket shelves.
I love chocolate. I’m usually all about mains rather than the pudding but chocolate is different. It’s not always on my mind, but when it does call to me, well, it screams. So I hatched a plan to test my theory.
I began getting my mitts on some international chocolate to compare to our home-sold delights. And I don’t mean I went round Aldi.
A Galaxy close, close to home
First off the bat my chap (Mikey) and I hoovered up a locally bought ‘Galaxy Honeycomb Crisp’. We weren’t capable of getting a photo of it with the wrapper intact. Mikey gave it 8/10. That’s a big deal. He gets excited about Star Wars (he’s 42) and sometimes his whole body jigs about Doctor Who. It is a rare thing, though, for him to be truly emphatic about food.
“Of course it’s delicious because it’s Galaxy; it’s the best,” he beamed. Galaxy, the eighth wonder of the world? Yeah, pretty much, if you’re in the right mood. They have invented a whole new level of creamy mouth velvet. The trade off is that it’s extremely sweet.
And my five-pence on this new limited-edition treat? It might as well have been plain Galaxy. It’s pointless adding something super-sweet to something super-sweet. (I hope you’re not having to read this article aloud, if so, sorry if you’re distracted now, thinking about Sooty and Sweep.)
We agreed, in the end, that the honeycomb only added textural diversity. Not like in a great big, sturdy Honeycomb Yorkie, where you can’t miss tasting the small boulders of nectar. In this bar it might as well have been rice crispies.
We were nit-picking. It had still been delightful. Scoffed at the end of a long shitty day, the Galaxy was, all-in-all, a triumph.
Belgium’s Milky Nuts
In competition, gifted to me from Belgium, a C’ote D’or ‘Melk Nootjes – Lait Noisette’. I haven’t bothered with Google translate but I think we can safely say ‘nuts and milk’. I like those things.
I grew up thinking Belgium made the best chocolate in the world, which I recently learned was a myth put about by a huge PR campaign in the 1980s. My teenage brother James got me this bar, on a school trip to the trenches. He doesn’t like chocolate, so he’s a fool. That said, he got me this before he knew I was hunting down foreign chocolate. So, he’s a very lovely fool.
I whacked this exciting snack out at the end of a dinner I’d cooked for friends Rachel and Matthew. The cider boiled ham and buttered pears had worked but my pudding had turned out too disgusting to eat. Didn’t think you could ruin rhubarb and cream? Think again.
This bar was proffered up as an apology. I’m sad to say it made things worse.
The cover made it look like it would have a praline centre flecked with hazelnuts. Instead it was solid milk chocolate that tasted much older than it was. It was like sucking on something you’d found in your Nana’s attic. Not having a microscope, it wasn’t possible to detect any nuts. If they were there then it was a bold move by the manufacturer to make the pieces that uber-fine, in a product which already tasted of dust.
Mikey just said, “Not the best.”
Rachel thought it had a fruity flavour. (Less a fact and more a consequence of the wine we’d had to cheer ourselves up with after the pudding.) Rachel did eat the leftover extra bit, but not in a proud or happy way; she did it with the same stoic face you make when you agree to help someone with their tidying up.
And Matthew, what did he think it tasted like? “Holidays.” I can’t argue with that.
Scores after Column #1
UK 1 v Belgium 0
Jessica Fostekew is a writer, comedian, actor, law degree-waster, sister, daughter and beard-fan with an unabashed food infatuation.