I just LOVE when we have a guest blogger….this one is close to my heart…. if you don’t know Rayne Hall… you will want to check her out on twitter at @RayneHall … she’s kind of a big deal. She was kind enough to write this article for the heiferhood!
Why I Craved White Chocolate - and How I Overcame This Need
Chocolate cravings are normal, aren’t they? Scientists tell us that cocoa contains a miraculous mix of chemicals that work on the brain and improve our mood. Chocolate lovers all over the world confirm that it works.
Except... this theory did little to explain my own cravings. When I felt low, common brown chocolate full of mood-boosting cocoa wouldn’t do. I needed the white stuff.
Whenever I felt lonely, neglected, ignored, rejected, the only thing that could soothe away my soul’s hurts as well as a bar of white chocolate (or two, or three).
I should have been yearning for chocolate’s darkest offerings (which contain the blessed blend of brain chemicals), but instead I yearned for the squares of innocent ivory.
Shortly after my fortieth birthday, I lay tucked up in my bed, soothing myself after disappointing day, feeling unappreciated. Sucking on a white chocolate bar (with further supplies stacked on the bedside table) and letting the sweet creaminess soothe my pain, I pondered where this weird preference came from.
As far as I could recall, I had always liked white best. But white chocolate was not a common treat in my childhood in 1960s Germany. Our village grocer sold only normal and dark versions. It was not until I reached my twenties that I was able to indulge in my cravings regularly.
The first time I saw white chocolate was when I was five years old. Suddenly, the memory came into focus, and I re-experienced the moment.
Clutching the icy railing with my mittened hands, I stared through metal bars at a waterfall. Masses of water hugged a steep rock, then fell into a cauldron below where they swirled, steamed and sprayed. It was just like the water in Mum's wash-kettle, only much bigger. The air smelled cold and clean.
"Look, there are people in a boat!" I cried, excited by their daring.
But Pa didn't hear me. I sneaked my hand into his coat pocket, to clasp his hand. "Won't they fall in the water and drown?"
"Don't be silly. They're doing regular boat trips out there, one every hour."
Thick foamy waves lashed the boat and made it dance. "Can we go on a boat trip? Please, Pa?"
But he didn't hear me. He let go of my hand and lifted my younger sister. "Can you see that?" he asked her. "That's the waterfall, the biggest in Switzerland, the biggest in the whole of Europe."
"Is it the biggest in the world?" I wanted to know. He didn't reply.
I clenched my lips together, trying not to feel left out, and stamped my feet against the cold. I was wearing white knitted tights, mended at the knees, a knitted hat and mittens. The dress was handed down to me from my elder sister, and the cardigan also. Lilli was wearing a new winter dress and white cape of fake fur that looked fluffy and cute. I would have liked a cape like that.
When my little sister grew bored watching water, Pa took us to a souvenir stall where merry red flags fluttered. Sparrows hopped around, begging for crumbs, but nobody fed them.
The goods on display lured and frightened me with their strangeness: dolls, postcards, flags and sweets, vaguely sinful things. And yet, there was something wonderful about chocolates, their warm tenderness as they melted softly on the tongue.
Pa said to Lilli, "There's something special for you. Very special. You've never heard of it." He and the vendor smiled at each other as if sharing a secret, making my heart race with excitement. "One bar of white chocolate for my little gold-treasure."
"And the sister?" the woman asked, shoving the bar into a rustling plastic bag. "What would she like?"
He turned to me. "You don't care about that sort of thing, do you?" His tone forbade my longing. I looked at my feet.
Without waiting for my reply, he took Lilli by the hand and walked on, between the metal railings and the weeping willows. My heart contracted with envy, and I followed in silence.
When we were far away from the souvenir stalls, with their alien flags and alien goods, Pa suddenly paused and turned to me. "Did you want white chocolate as well?"
Yes-yes-yes, I wanted to say, but couldn’t find the courage.
Lilli wailed, tired from the outing already.
"If you want some, we can go back." But he made no move to change his direction. "But it's cold and we should go home. You're quite a sensible girl for your age, aren't you? You don't care for such things."
My mind still reeled at the thought of white chocolate, and what it might be like. Would it taste like the chocolate I knew, or strange? Would that milky whiteness melt, creamy and sweet, on the tongue? Would it be a taste of heaven, or of sin?
"No." I said, forcing out the words with as much calm as a five-year old could muster. "No, I don't want chocolate. I don't care about such things at all."
Pa lifted Lilli on his shoulders. "Come, my little gold-treasure, lets go home." He whistled his favourite military march.
My heart hurt with longing for white chocolate, that alien thing that was bestowed with love.
This yearning must have remained with me as I grew up. Once I earned my own money and could buy my own treats, I satisfied it – many times over... with predictable effects on my waistline.
Whenever I craved to be loved, noticed, appreciated, my subconscious returned to that buried memory of the day by the waterfall, and suggested the symbolic remedies that were within reach: maybe a boat trip.... and certainly a big bar of white chocolate.
This insight hit me like a cold, clear waterfall.
Suddenly I understood why I had been stuffing myself with this supreme comfort food for decades.
With this understanding, my need for white chocolate shrank. In the almost fifteen years since, I've rarely even desired this treat.
Very occasionally, when I've been feeling seriously depressed and in need of soothing comfort, I went and bought white chocolate. But I no longer quickly buy several bars and gobble them up.
Instead, I take my time to select a bar. Then I make eye contact with the sales assistant, and tell her that this is a special treat for myself.
I take it home, unwrap it, and tell myself that I'm special, that this is just for me and no one else. Then I break off a piece and let the creamy sweetness melt on my tongue. I talk to myself about how wonderful it tastes, about how I deserve this special treat because I'm special.
Guess what? After half a bar, I'm contented, and the craving is gone and doesn't return for many months.
Food cravings can be more psychological rather than physical. Understanding their cause allows us to satisfy the underlying emotional need.
After successfully solving the 'white chocolate mystery' I was able to identify the cause of my lust for glace cherries... but that's a topic for another time, another post.
How about you? Do you experience specific food cravings when you feel low? What is it you yearn for on those days? Can you remember the incident that started the cravings?
Post a comment to tell us about your cravings. Let's see whose is the weirdest.
About Rayne Hall
Rayne is an author who writers ghost stories, fantasy novels and non-fiction books. She lives in Bulgaria where she enjoys gardening, training her cats, visiting archaeological sites and going for long walks in the green hills and pine forests.
You can read some of her short stories free on her website here: https://www.raynehall.com/fantasy-story-a-feline-familiar