It seemed like a simple idea. While in Boston, I (along with a few friends) would head to the Chocolate Bar. This is a weekly event held at Cafe Fleuri in Hotel Langham (located in the Financial District, as we were contemptuously reminded), where one plops down forty dollars for the joy of having all means and mediums of desserts available to oneself.
It is a novel idea, this I will grant you, especially when they market the buffet as a means to explore all five tastes using chocolate as a base medium. It made the event seem almost brunch-like. And with me? There’s been a scant few brunches that I have turned down.
We walked into the Chocolate bar with the anticipation normally held by children waiting to open presents. As we sat down, we were told by the hosts of the treats within. On the tables were whoopie pies, a crepe bar, an ice cream bar, fresh made truffles, cookies, tarts, cakes, and tartlettes.
Let me set the record straight – there was absolutely nothing wrong with the products in of themselves. Each was adequately made, although some were far superior than others. The serving sizes weren’t the issue either, as each dish, aside from the crepes, offered about two to three bites apiece.
No, the problem was with us.
There is a reason why, traditionally, dessert consists of only one dish. The sweetness of sugar dominates the palate, making it difficult to provide a last course that contains some measure of subtlety and nuance. In short, a dessert ends the dinner on a high note. A very loud, high note.
Additionally, you have the way in which our body reacts to sugar. Generally speaking, there is a threshold within us all, that when we exceed, our body tells us that we. are. done. Oh we could continue eating, but it’s not that happy “I can’t wait to see what the next course brings” type of eating. Oh no. This is the “Jesus, why don’t I stop, for the love that is holy, why am I putting this fork in my mouth again” type of eating. This is the sort of eating that leaves many people naked in a shower, weeping, curled in a fetal position, and considering the viability of only drinking water and eating celery for the rest of their life.
It is at Cafe Fleuri that I had discovered my dessert threshold. Three. Roughly nine bites of sugary bliss. After that, my mind turns into a wasteland of guilt and disgust as presented by puppies and kittens.
The problem lies in the fact that the logical, penny counting aspect of my brain thinks “Three tiny desserts? For FORTY dollars? That isn’t cost effective! You must get your moneys worth!”
I looked throughout the dozens of desserts available to me whilst in my “Hello Kitty wrist-cutting” mindset. Was it worth it? Was there one dessert here that I had to have that would bring me back to a rational state?
I looked at the profiteroles, and then a bite sized morsel of Boston Cream Pie. Nope. These weren’t it. I migrated towards the Chocolate Tort made with Applewood Bacon. Bacon? In Chocolate? That sounded vaguely adult-like. Perhaps this would bring me back to reality.
I brought the dish back to my table and had a bite. I tried to experience the dish through rational eyes. But this was not to be. I had crossed my threshold. I was firmly into the land of exhaustion and disgust. In the back of my mind, oompaloompas and baby bunnies mocked me. I had been broken by a torte.
I heard a sigh beside me. Andrea, to my left, was looking glumly at her half eaten custard. Similarly, Dawn, to my right, was in deep contemplation over a beignet.
As I looked around the room, I saw similar faces, all adult, realize what a horrible idea this had been. All of the desserts we could eat? What they HELL were we thinking? We were adults for god’s sake.
And there it was. We were adults. Our bodies were telling us that directly. The idea of all of a chocolate bar was novel, even romantic, in theory. In practice, it became an exercise of balancing excess, an endeavor in which there are few victors.
The rest of the day we avoided sweets of all sorts, and the mere mention of desserts was enough to set us off. Every once in a while, someone would say “Chocolate Cake!” or “Apple Crumble”. Each time, one of the rest of us would respond with an audible “Ugh” that was as much as an exclamation of defeat as it was disgust.
For dinner that night, we did the only thing we could to bleach our minds of the morning’s sojourn. We went to a steakhouse, where we celebrated our adulthood with dry-aged filets and red wine.
And when the waiter asked us if we wanted to see the dessert menu, our response made him retreat to the back of the restaurant, where we would never see him again.