I remember when I was kid, many, many years ago, I and my young friends used to love such delights as jelly babies, liquorice allsorts, boiled sweets and sherbet, all in somewhat limited supply due to a few goings on across the channel in France and Germany. But we didn’t have to go without entirely, it was simply that all that sort of stuff was rationed, which tended to make it all the more delightful, once you managed to get hold of some! And when you did, it was a matter of ‘as sweet as possible and as sticky as possible’– I would never claim any subtlety in our tastes in those days!
Then as I matured through ‘teenager-ship’ into young adulthood, my tastes gradually matured with me and I found I was more interested in Cadbury’s Milk Tray and other such exotic delights, as much as anything I guess because it was the sort of things you tried to impress girls with. It was considered by my contemporaries, that a box of chocolates, (not too big of course), or even a bunch of flowers, represented the gates to paradise where girls were concerned, though I have to confess I never found they made that much difference to my luck! So, the sweet tooth was still evident, but now it possessed a little more sophistication, in that various gels, sauces and other fillings were added to the mass.
Next came the era of chocolate. That is to say, of course, MILK chocolate, which came in handy flat bars, easily carried in the pocket, providing a good supply of energy for an active life, but still rich, creamy and sweet, in the mouth. This was the ‘food’ of sportsmen, flyers and adventurers, men who were experiencing life to the full, but still needed nourishment ‘on the go’!
Then we come to the final stage, the one where everything in life that is GOING to be experienced has been experienced. This is the age when a man has a lovely wife, two or three teenage kids and a large screen television. No longer is ultra-sweetness required – the pallet needs much more than that. The sweets of childhood now taste disgusting, and even milk chocolate is a little cloying. The serious man needs depth and dignity in his leisure diet, and what is the perfect confection to satisfy that desire? Dark chocolate of course! And in particular the dark chocolate that contains at least seventy percent cocoa solids. Now he has a food that is bitter, rather than sweet and which contains much less fat or sugar than the previous stuff he enjoyed, so it’s something he can consume without fear of putting on too much fat, catching diabetes or developing heart problems. Not only that, but the teenagers in the family don’t like it, so they won’t pinch it w hen he’s not around! Man has reached the height of sophistication!
Virtually the same sequence takes place in other paths of pleasure too. Take drinking for instance, beer drinkers first. When I was old enough to drink, my mates and I would rush to the nearest pub and buy ‘lime and lager’ for ourselves, (I’m sure you can guess what THAT tasted like!), and ‘Babycham’ for the girl friend. From that we’d mature to bitter and dry sherry, and the real enthusiasts would finally mature on Guinness for the bloke and gin & tonic for the wife. Wine drinkers usually began by drinking Sauterne or Lambrusco, then Liebfraumilche and cheap champagne, until finally ending life with a liver full of Merlot or ‘Cab Sav’. The REALLY serious drinkers would either quickly pass through, or in some cases miss altogether, the stages listed above and finish their lives quaffing quantities of whisky for him and vodka for her, with nothing, (like soda water), to lighten the load.
I’m not really sure whether this story shows how much we progress as we get older, or how much we are actually in decline. I’ll leave it to the reader to work that one out! What are your favourite tastes? Share your memories…