There are few things that unify the world like chocolate.
During our first week together I offered our foreign exchange student a cup of cocoa.
And that event has become a microcosm of our relationship.
First she marveled that we call it cocoa. She calls it hot chocolate. Fair enough, I explained, since many people do. I like distinguishing it from edible chocolate. Drinkable chocolate sounds funny. So hot cocoa or just cocoa.
I try to buy only fair trade chocolate. Because I feel it’s important to fight child-slave labor by refusing to buy conventionally sourced chocolate. But after trying all the fair trade cocoas out there, I’ve decided my favorite is the brand this taste test decried as cloyingly sweet and overly vanilla-ed. Organic, but not fair trade.
Too sweet, most tasters at the newspaper said. But our dear friend from the Dominican Republic almost spat out her first sip. She said, horrified, “you didn’t put any sugar in this!” then fixed it to her liking, with three soup spoons full of sugar and a little extra milk.
The next night, she asked me to make her another cup of cocoa.
As I mentioned earlier this week, we’ve been working on getting her more independent. So I pointed to the kettle, explained how it works. I made sure she knows how to turn on the stove. And I told her the water would be ready soon and left her with a packet of a less sweet, fair trade cocoa.
She managed just fine. She found a cup and a spoon. And she knew very well where the sugar was.