I have to come back to Ireland.
(When I wrote that, I meant in the figurative, “I want to write about Ireland but not at this moment” kind of way, but it works literally as well. Ireland, I shall return! Unfortunately, there’s too much to blog about, so my little brain must start elsewhere, and that elsewhere is Belgium!)
If I had any hope of maintaining a healthy diet while on vacation (ha), it was dashed the moment I stepped off the train in Brugge (“Bruges” for the French), Belgium. This place is both my Heaven and my Hell because it has my most favorite thing in all the world—chocolate—handmade and crafted into bon bons and truffles and figurines and dipped over fruit…
But as such, I am tempted to go into every single store and sample all their products. TOO MUCH TEMPTATION! I will have to be rolled down the airplane aisle to my seat where I will sit in stretchy pants and lick my rotund, chocolate-covered fingers.
So, my new idea of Heaven includes chocolatier shops and being able to sample everything without going into diabetic shock and/or gaining 400 pounds. Here are some of the amazing window displays that lure addicts like me who lack will-power and possibly some teeth:
Actually, I lied.
Those displays were a little over the top. I did not enter those shops out because I prefer the little, cozy shops, like this:
But TODAY I found the best place in Brugge. It’s called Dumon, and it was there that I bought my collection of chocolate.
The credit goes out to the man at the counter. I sadly did not catch his name, although he sounded British. He was amazing—a man who truly loves his job—and he nearly convinced me that my life’s happiness could also be found working in a chocolate shop advising others on which chocolates to buy. Think about it:
1. Job training would include getting to learn all of the different ways chocolate can be filled: with caramel, mango, hazelnut, praline, eggnog, juniper, amaretto, cognac, champagne, marzipan, cherry, coconut, almond, strawberry, in versions of white chocolate, milk chocolate, dark chocolate, chocolate truffles, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate, solid chocolates, etc. etc.
2. I would get to taste them all.
3. As part of my job, I would direct confused (or, as in my case, overwhelmed) customers to the best chocolates based on their tastes and desires, i.e., become an expert in chocolate.
4. I would know—without question—that I contributed to the happiness of others, and ultimately, I think, to the world.
At least, that was my experience today. The Chocolate Giver at Dumon was a wonderful human being, and I felt like I was walking on clouds when I left the store thanks to him. He began by offering Adam and me a sample of chocolate. Then he offered to help us in any way we needed, answer questions, give us suggestions, help us experience the magic. He educated us about the system of buying assorted chocolates—there was an option to have one of everything!—but in the end I settled for a pre-packaged assorted box for a friend and a 250g box (small enough to pack, but still large enough to hold 20 bon bons) for myself.
He also let me sit there for a solid ten minutes and stare at boxes, trying to figure out which one I wanted, and when I didn’t know what marzipan was, he gave me a marzipan-filled chocolate to taste. Annnnnd when I wanted to purchase one final chocolate, the one my helper described as his favorite, he gave it to me on the house.
He went through and hand-picked each of the 20 chocolates in my take-away box, and he did a fine job of playing tetrus with them so they all fit nicely in there.
Also, he let us know there was not minimum limit of chocolate one had to purchase, which relieved the pressure of buying large assortments. Even though I’m all for death by chocolate, it’s nice to know I can purchase a single truffle. In fact, that’s the route Adam took. He chose five, with help, and they included the juniper, mango, and the mystery-filled favorite of our new friend (which turned out to be caramel). We both left the store on a cocoa-induced high, smiles on our faces, feeling as though our Belgium experience were complete.
Of course, that was only the beginning. There’s always more to see and eat (perhaps drink?) in Belgium…
(To be continued)