It is well, I think, to realize that a person does not know everything.
To wit, I recently came into possession of a Vosges Haut Chocolat Goji Bar, which is a thin, three-ounce candy bar made of “Tibetan goji berries,”* “pink Himalayan salt”** and “deep milk chocolate.” And nothing else, I might add, if the published list of ingredients can be trusted.
I will add that, while I did not buy this particular bar, they retail online for $7.50 at the Vosges Web site, and can be found at a yuppie grocery near me for $6.99.
How good is a $7 candy bar? Pretty good, actually. But after eating about half of it (
I still have a quarter of it leftit is all gone now), I realized I was doing it wrong. I know this because the back of the package has actual instructions. What the people at Vosges are selling is not, in fact, a candy bar at all; it is more like high-caloric therapy (230 in a 1.5-ounce serving, 130 from fat).
The first thing you have to do, according to the instructions, is three “deep ujjayi breaths.” This is a yoga thing, though no one at Vosges must know that because they included the redundant adjective “deep”; and it actually has nothing to do with the candy. So, if you have unwrapped it already, put it down and finish your breathing.
Next, look at the candy. It is a pleasant brown color, about the shade of my briefcase. Then, after rubbing your finger on the surface, smell it. It smells delicious, like fresh baked caramel brownies, or some such; however, now my finger is sticky. Now break off a piece and listen for the apparently distinctive “crisp, ringing pop, which indicates a well-tempered bar of chocolate.” Temper, Vosges says, is the quality of the bond between cocoa butter and cocoa mass. Mine broke with a soft, not unpleasant thud, but the bar has been open since Friday night.
Finally, you can eat it. But only a small piece, and for god’s sake don’t chew it right away. Vosges wants you to mash the candy to the roof of your mouth for half a minute, allowing the “raspberry, plum and currant undertones” of the goji berry to sluice over your tongue. I have trouble detecting all that fruit. It is not that I have a poor palate, though; I can totally pick out off-brand “cheez” puffs from the real thing. After 30 seconds, a lot of the chocolate has faded away, and so the only thing left to do is chew the goji berries and the salt. Over all, it really is quite nice. I will go further and say that it probably is worth $7 — if you are the sort of person who pays that much for candy bars.
Alas, even as you swallowed the last bite, you probably suspected that you were not finished. Now you have to “feel” “the mystique of these little pink gems.” I am not sure what Vosges is getting at. Nothing looks pink to me, except for the box the candy came in. I even ate a piece and looked into my open mouth in the mirror, but it was like looking at the top of a poorly made, chocolate-frosted red velvet cupcake.
Now. Because I am a master of science (really), I decided to contrast the Vosges method with my own, which I will call the Halloween Snickers One-Handed Gulp.
The first step is to insert the bar into your mouth just about as far as it goes, but not so far that you are in danger of choking. So far, so good. Next, close your teeth around the chocolate, bite off what is in your mouth and move the rest of the bar away from your head. O.K. Now, see, an advantage to this method is that the reflective silence that Vosges recommends you indulge in is enforced by the mass of chocolate in your mouth. Now chew. Again, the Vosges bar is quite nice. The main difference that I detect in this technique is that a mouthful of the chocolate gets to be real gummy toward the end, with the gojis bunching up and sticking to your teeth like dried, tart little gummi bears.
When you are done chewing, swallow and put more of the bar in your mouth. Repeat.
*Goji berries are more commonly known as wolfberries, and though they are frequently used in organic foods they bestow no proven health benefits.
**Himalayan salt is a marketing term for rock salt mined in Pakistan. Likewise, it is no different than numerous other varieties of salt.