As an “extreme owl” I often stay awake working in the night time.
Mornings are therefore not enjoyable for me. Even when I have a lie-in I can feel grumpy until the coffee flows.
I’m not sure if this is because my senses are heightened or if they are asleep. Either way, I reckon I am more sensitive than most to changes in light, sound, smell, and definitely taste.
Aside from the obvious side effects of morning hatred such as inability to open eyes and short-lived rage at the world (which incidentally can be extended into a general ratty mood for the rest of the day if some negative external thing happens during this window of opportunity) – aside from this I have another strange symptom.
I can’t put anything in my mouth. No water, no food, not even coffee. I have to be awake for at least 45 minutes before attempting to do this. Is this normal?
Today I discovered an exception: 3g of Dark Chocolate.
Not the sweet caramel substances you find in the newsagent. I mean the kind that you put in your mouth which, if stored in a larder, tastes like a cold, hard lump of nothing for the first few seconds.
This is perfect. The initial shock to the tastebuds (texture, sour, salty, watery) I experience with most other foods makes we want to run for cover.
But chocolate is neutral at first. It is already the right temperature for the mouth before it goes in. Then as it warms the flavour gently develops into something that is neither too sweet nor too bitter. It turns into a warm goo, much like being handed a soft blanket.
It gently wakes up the tastebuds.
Then as it disintegrates it slowly releases more and more interesting natural flavours. In doing so it activates the bitter and the sweet receptors just the right amount if it’s the correct balance of cocoa, cocoa butter, and sugars. It activates the sour receptors shortly after this, and gives them something to think about if the chocolate has a red fruit (cherry, raspberry, or strawberry) note.
The chocolates I like are more naturally fruit-like than nut-like, but even my favourite chocolates have a small amount of nut-like flavour, which also stimulates the salt glands – and we know what that does for saliva.
And all it takes is half a square of good chocolate.
Chocolate, I love you.