Oft has a (500ml, at least…) tub of dairy-derived, ambrosial loveliness – along with miscellaneous other delicious, not-particularly-wholesome-or-nutritious goodies – been ‘disappeared’ from our kitchen in recent years. And we are not, before your heart flutters in an arrhythmia of paranormal-attuned titillation, the unfortunate hosts of a greedy poltergeist. No, this slightly Grinch-esque character is the shamefaced embodiment of my covert, cupboard-cruising guilt – it almost perfectly captures the look of distilled abashment into which my features involuntarily, and futilely, contort upon discovery, e.g. when my beloved casually expresses an interest in a modest spoonful, or two (oh, naive optimism!), of that Ben & Jerry’s we bought at the weekend. As if a pathetic, mewling apology could ever represent adequate compensation for that long-anticipated taste of butterscotch sauce, creamy ice-cream and obscenely chocolate-chunk-laden pudding stuff.
Don’t get me wrong: I don’t pretend here to be a Nigella-esque coquette, slinking down to the kitchen after Book at Bedtime to bask in the alluringly glow of the fridge – zabaglione in one hand, slice of fruit (probably plum/banana/melon [OK, less probable] other innuendo-ripe species) and outrageously-buttery biscuity confection in t’other – and espouse the glorious decadence of midnight feasting with a saucy wink and a smack of the lips. For one, the contents of my fridge isn’t nearly exotic enough, or abundant (the idea of leftovers in this household is, frankly, risible), and for another, I haven’t the buxom attributes that might otherwise absolve me from the crime of scarfing the last slice of wedding cake (for example…). No, these are the admissions of a pathological treat-forager, for whom only a very select few (and dwindling) categories of sweet delicacy are sacred. (Family, ice-cream-based procurements fell by the wayside a long time ago…)
Ashamed though I (justifiably) was that the last crumb of our wedding cake had been launched down my gullet – most probably at approx. 02:30 a.m. one recent weekday morning (my nocturnal adventures in indulgent snacking undoubtedly account for the greater part of all food consumption at 76 Gloucester Crescent) – this was as nothing compared to The Christmas Chocolates Saga (it does, I feel, qualify as a saga on the basis that it spanned several weeks and was comprised of multiple episodes, albeit markedly similar ones):
This pertained to chocolates – two identical boxes, thereof – earmarked as Christmas gifts and destined for two specific recipients. The first box I breached was guiltlessly (well, almost) dispatched over the course of several nights, safe was I in the knowledge that this same selection of chocolates was still widely available – nay, the chocolatier’s shop window framed a veritable profusion of cocoa-crafted bounty, positively daring me to trough my way through all our chocolate resources just so I could purchase more! However, having bought one duplicate box to replace the pilfered one (unbeknownst to Mr P at this point), I grew cavalier. A second time, I sheared the tape and snuck chocolates from one of the reserved gift boxes. But, horrors! On returning to town to repeat the (increasingly expensive, not to mention chubbifying) deception, they had entirely sold out! (I even, shamelessly, admitted my guilt to the bewildered shop assistant who apologetically, although perhaps not thoroughly appreciating the severity of my plight, spread her hands and gave a regretful shrug.) The boxes had to appear identical – I was totally rumbled. I queasily bought two barely-perceptibly-different collections and trudged home to await the inevitable face-burning reveal.
Yes, it was embarrassing, and there necessarily followed a second – although this time joint – decimation of the forlorn remaining, now odd, box of the original pair. Over the following two weeks, the chocolate gift box pair was to go through a further two reincarnations – each very slightly different from the last, on account of stock expiration and a lack of imagination in the confectionary industry – until, in exasperation, I gift-wrapped them. Ribbons, rosettes and all.
Quite clearly, cognizant as I am of my own sweetie-filching proclivities, I should’ve taken such evasive action from the outset, but perhaps I have learnt something from the maddeningly cyclical experience…? That the advantages offered by the economies of scale (large box of chocolates = better value decadence) can only be enjoyed if one understands that certain rules govern an economically beneficial outcome, i.e. buying five times as many chocolates as required, but on five separate occasions – and so garnering no bulk discount that a more astute/self-disciplined shopper might have achieved – and then dispensing with four-fifths of the amassed product (hello, digestive tract…), essentially renders the product five times as expensive as initially advertised.
In conclusion, then, I have devised a protracted and waist-expanding method of quintupling the price of a box of chocolates. And also learnt that to buy gift chocolates three months in advance of the date they are to be given represents a spectacularly foolish present-buying strategy.
(Clementines, hazelnuts and shiny pennies it is, then…)