Thursday, 12 January 2017

Chocolate-creature-eating Business

There could be no mistake, that girl was eating a bird. With lustful pride. With barely concealed glee as if she were a savage who hadn't eaten a square meal in days. Other women might eat chocolate the same way if it had been denied, rather than delicately nibbling the cocoa-buttery head and maybe the feet before swathing its remains in its creased shiny wrapper as if it were some sort of burial. A treat to be exhumed later, and again and again until the hidden plot was an empty pit.
Some women (or men for that matter), if the chocolate were of the hollow kind might break it into pieces as it were a carelessly dropped vase or plate, all the better not to see what shape they had been eating. It might have been a rabbit, a hedgehog, a frog, a dog, a penguin. Though, of course, if the eaters were under ten then the reason for smashing would be different, for they would naturally assume there were sweets inside. The chocolate creature was, of course, a hollow cave where other sweet currency could be stored; they weren't often wrong but they weren't always right.
A few adults, it's true, share that same thought and that same childish delight: what's inside? and shake the animal to see if it carries a rattle or rustle, and then break in, often with more and not less haste, as children do. That gratification now and not saved for later. Vessels that harbour treasure must be plundered before other sticky beaks or sticky hands come to lay their claim. And yes, I'm still talking chocolate, though comparisons might be drawn elsewhere.
So, the eating of chocolate is a barbarous affair. One where biting ears or heads off is allowed as the first line of defence or attack, whereas if the food were alive you might aim for a swift, clean kill and later apprise the heart and internal organs, which, if unspoiled, could be eaten raw or with very little preparation; or perhaps if time was not of the essence, a marinade or a rub to enhance the meat's natural flavour, the outside then blackened, the inside tender, falling off, with no effort, from the bone, if the body as a whole was to be consumed. The tenderised organs returned inside where they might again be found and savoured. For hunter-gatherers who don't hunt and don't kill and only gather in the meat aisle to take from there what they want might still believe in eating nose-to-tail and adding their own inventive twists.
Maybe that's where it all stems from – chocolate.
Or maybe that's where chocolate is going to: lessening the squeamishness that's sprung up in our modernised times of eating offal, like weaning babies off mother's milk to solids. A cocoa solid chocolate heart then the real thing, though I doubt that would work with liver or kidneys; you need to dive straight in with adult experience and supervision if you're so inclined and don't have or haven't yet formed food principles.
I'm just curious as to if there's a relationship between how we consider meat and how we eat chocolate. And I think there is, possibly, although for too many years to count I, myself, haven't eaten either, and yet if there is, a relationship that is, I don't think it transfers all that well. But maybe chocolate is still in its early days, though that seems to be a ridiculous thing to say, and it will, given more time, change how we might react should we see a girl devouring a recently deceased, still warm, bird, like a starling or wood pigeon in much the same way as a carnivore in the animal kingdom might do. Gruesome, yes, and the stuff, if it is to be believed, of fairy tales and the genre called 'Horror', but more natural, no, than a knife and fork? The still-beating heart plucked out with a manicured talon.
Am I being serious? No, of course not. But isn't there something to be said for what gets modelled in chocolate and how, if it's animal-shaped, it can bring out the dormant predator in us, or is our relationship to meat, to sentient beings more divorced than I realised; and if so, does that mean anything?
Perhaps, all it means is that I should really stop analysing how people go about this chocolate-creature-eating business.

Picture credit: Young Girl Eating a Bird, 1927, Rene Magritte