Monday, March 12, 2012

German chocolate.

When my mother-in-law comes over, the first fifteen minutes of her visit are always spent pulling things out of her giant, quilted, sunflower emblazoned bag.

Coupons she has clipped for me, movies she has borrowed, old toys that used to belong to my husband that she thinks the kids would now enjoy, etc. Thanks to her we are now the proud owners of his vintage (a.k.a. old) Fisher Price xylophone, mooing pull-along cow and the What’s In My Pockets? book.

Toy Heaven - circa 1976.

But then she pulled something else out of the sunflower bag.

“Oh, and I brought this,” she said innocently.

I had my back to her; I was busy chopping up veggies - a nice, healthy snack.

I turned around and gasped.
My face winced.
My heart raced and my hands got a little clammy.

It was a Cost-Co size jar of Nutella.

“Oh no. No. I can’t have that in the house.
I really can’t.”

“Why?” She was confused and rightfully so.
No one should have that strong of a reaction to a jar of Nutella. She was trying to be nice. What had she done wrong?

I’ll tell you what.

A few weeks ago she had done the same damn thing. Innocently brought in a jar of Nutella for the family after a Cost-Co trip. And here’s what happened - I ate the whole damn thing, minus a couple of slices of toast that the boys managed to sneak in. I didn’t want this to happen again.

Here is the thing about Nutella – it is good on anything:

Wheat Thins
Candy bars
Pound cake
Goldfish Crackers
Heated up with ice cream
Fiber One bars
Fruit (fruit? yawn.)

But mostly it is best on:

A spoon
A finger
A spatula, used when scraping the empty jar.

Now I am a vanilla girl by nature. This chocolate spread should mean nothing to me. But I have a memory tied to Nutella that is like a first kiss. A first chocolaty, hazelnutty, milky kiss.

At Brookside Elementary I became good friends with a girl who had just moved to Ossining, NY from somewhere in Germany.

Her name was Valeska and we hung out a lot when I was little. She was blonde and pretty with glasses. She had cool light blue bell bottom pants that I secretly coveted. She also had jars and jars of a little taste of home in her kitchen cupboard that I also secretly coveted.

Valeska gave me my first taste of Nutella. Leave it to the Germans to get you into some serious food trouble. Not with schnitzel, kraut or even fondue but with this dreamy, sweet spread.

She and her folks had super thick German accents. They would ask me things and I would nod and smile. They would giggle. They were very nice and always hugged me when I came and went.

I was at their house for lunch one day; her mom asked me if I’d like a Nutella sandwich. I didn’t know what that was but the words sandwich and lunch were involved and I didn’t want to seem rude. And as usual, I was hungry.


Valeska and I took a break from having our Barbie’s make out with each other to reenergize and eat.

Her mom always set us up to eat all fancy style - must have been the German way. Even if it was just the two of us we would eat at the dining room table that was set with a tablecloth that was actual cloth, napkins (again, cloth) and china plates. Sometimes she would even light a candle. At my house my mom used to throw a yellow tarp down on the living room floor and set my brother Mike and I up with our Mork and Mindy tray tables in front of the television. After we ate she would shake the tarp on the back deck so the birds could eat our crumbs. So, this setting made for an interesting change.

The sandwich and glass (real glass!) of milk looked perfect and delicious. I sat down and copied Valeska by placing my napkin on my lap. As I picked up my sandwich I noticed the brown creamy spread inside. What could this be? Liverwurst? How was I going to get through this without seeming rude? But then I caught a whiff of the sweet scent. I took a bite.

It was chocolate. I WAS EATING A CHOCOLATE SANDWICH. This was turning into one of the best/worst days of my life!

Best because again, I was eating a chocolate sandwich, and worst because this had been my introduction to a chocolate sandwich.

After hearing me incessantly go on and on about my lunch, my mom talked to Valeska’s mom and she hooked us up with our very own jar of Nutella. I remember feeling all fancy and special looking in the cupboard and seeing it there, the label was in a different language, and it didn’t list calories, it listed ENERGY, so it must give me energy and be good for me! YAY!

Today I know that an entire jar of “energy” over the course of three evenings is not good for me. But I have no control. I made my husband hide the giant jar his mother so kindly bought over. Just knowing it’s in my kitchen somewhere right now just made my pupils dilate.

Valeska and I lost touch; I think she ended up moving back to Germany. After she was gone I missed her, I missed her family and I missed lunchtime at her house. The perfect table, the real plates and napkins, and the sweetest surprise I ever had at lunchtime


1 comment:

  1. So funny! There are just certain foods that shouldn't make it in the front door.I had to have my hubby take away a costco size bag of snack size Snickers and Milky Ways - they should never, ever make it into my house!!