In Which Chocolate Comes to a Tragic End

In Which Chocolate Comes to a Tragic End

Don’t read this unless you want to have your day ruined.� See the title.

I’m going to make this short, like ripping off a bandage. In fact, one word might suffice:

It’s called the canicule.

You have probably heard of it, this current of air that brings a heat wave to France.

In French, if you hear canicule, you think hot.

Of course, if you grew up in Georgia and later lived in Tahiti, you snicker and think, “I could show you real heat, people. Oh, how little do you know!”

That is…until…

You have to drive back to Paris. It’s a ten hour drive. And the canicule hits.

That day. That same day.

And–this is France. The car has no air conditioner.

Alala guessed it. I’m sure now that the chocolate melted in the first half hour.

And not just Auer’s chocolate. There was a good two or three kilos of other chocolate, because–and I don’t know why this is–people kept giving me chocolate while I was on the Côte d’Azur.

My uncle-in-law had been to Switzerland on a business trip, and he saw chocolate and thought of me.

Someone went to the grocery store, saw chocolate and thought of me.

I went to the store, saw chocolate, and thought of me.

It just accumulated that way.

And then.




The worst, the very worst, was going sadly through the remnants of chocolate, all melted together, with Jean-Pierre the next day, trying to find any that was salvageable.

Most wasn’t. For most it was nearly impossible to find what was chocolate and what was its wrapper, and cooling again it had gone all powdery as chocolate tends to do. Of two or three kilos, all that could be saved:


Here are the orangettes (chocolate-dipped candied orange peel) from Auer, post-canicule.


Orangettes are supposed to be individual slivers of chocolate-dipped candied orange slices, not this:


I refused to toss them. I said SOMETHING could be done with them. And the other night I made a ganache laced with candied orange peel and we tried it on vanilla ice cream.


When life melts your chocolate, you’ve got to do something other than throw it away, right?

Although there’s another moral here. I think Amy got it right in the comments on the first part’s post.

See?� I warned you it was tragic!� Now I’m going to go see my therapist again.

  • I don’t think I’m overstating: this is one of the top 5 saddest posts I’ve ever read on the Internets. My condolences.

    June 22, 2007 at 7:36 am
  • Well, I HOPE so, Sognatrice. It’s a grim world we live in if you’ve read many posts sadder than this.

    June 22, 2007 at 8:19 am
  • Oh my! There should be a picture of those sad little orangettes next to the word “tragic” in the dictionary. Oh, I love those things! The first thing I thought was, what can you do with all that melted chocolate? I would have thrown it all in the fridge and nibbled on the powdery leftovers anyway. And said I liked it. Even if I didn’t. No matter what anyone said. Oh, I don’t even know how you can find the strength to write about this. But that ganache sure looks good too, so you still can savor that tiny victory, right?

    June 22, 2007 at 9:05 am
  • Akkkk I am sorry but yes do not throw them away. There is lots of way to use them. Clarice

    June 22, 2007 at 9:15 am
  • Oh you poor thing! That is the saddest story I have heard this year. How can you stand it?
    I am weeping for you. And wondering if you are going to have to head back to France for more chocolate. It was almost as if the Universe was taunting you – you had ALL that chocolate, but snickered at the hot wind, so it decided to show you? Revenge of the canicule? And can this wind be the evil character in your next book? You can call the bad person “so-and-so Canicule”. Of course, “so-and-so” should be something different, but…
    Oh geez, I’m just babbling. It’s because I really have no idea what to say. I’m still in shock, grieving, for all of that chocolate. And for YOU Laura. To live through this tragedy, you must be a very strong woman indeed. Which I already knew!

    June 22, 2007 at 9:37 am
  • Lesson learned. GORGE on chocolate.

    Laura, I’d have just weeped. Right onto the melted chocolate. I’d water that chocolate with my tears.

    And I don’t know what else to say.

    June 22, 2007 at 10:22 am
  • The Revenge of the Canicule. Okay, that would be hilarious as a title.

    I have an idea, Michelle! We could make a chocolate dictionary. Everyone could post a picture as the definition of some word. It would be a good meme. 🙂

    The trick is to gorge on chocolate and be able to save some to gorge on the next day, too. Stupid canicule. My next book (after La Vie en Roses) might have to be entirely about chocolate to make up for it. (For research, of course.)

    June 22, 2007 at 2:13 pm
  • That was not only tragic, it was horrifying. There should have been some warning about graphic images of chocolate carnage, because when I hit PageDown and saw that, oh, I blinched. I blinched to the very core of my soul. I’m terribly sorry that my guess was the right one.

    That said, do I win anything?

    June 22, 2007 at 4:31 pm
  • melinda

    Oh boy, those are not orangettes – they are orange SLABETTES!
    Heat Chocolate = Mess and sadness.

    Next time, take a carfridge with a little ice to keep it cool- not cold, as that does not agree with chocolate either!

    God chocolate is fussy! LOL Me too!

    June 22, 2007 at 6:06 pm
  • Well, you WOULD win something, Alala, but it melted. See how tragic this all really is?

    Melinda, I see you are imagining this car had ROOM for a car-fridge. But it was a French car, and somehow we kept acquiring more and more relatives who wanted to travel in it with us. And their luggage. I think the only solution would have been to eat the chocolate, but I realized its fate too late. If only I had been a better chocolate caretaker…

    June 22, 2007 at 7:20 pm
  • Where was the blasted MISTRAL?

    I thought all hope was lost…then…the last picture…redemption! You did what I would have done. NO…I would have swallowed it all upon receiving it no doubt. Is there a moral to the story? Will it happen again?

    June 22, 2007 at 7:41 pm
  • Nooooooo! NoNoNOOOOOO!! That’s just wrong, and sad, and heartbreaking, and did I mention WRONG?
    Stupid canicule.

    June 23, 2007 at 11:25 pm
  • I’m afraid I’m gonna lose my title as “most knowledgeable and sophisticated reader” by asking this but…… why can’t one eat the melted chocolate? Doesn’t it stay the same, albeit in a different shape? I suppose it might lose some texture but…..

    Confused. (Probably because we’re in the midst of our own record breaking heat at the moment.)

    July 6, 2007 at 3:15 pm
  • Laume, this stuff was a mess. But the melting and chilling does ruin the texture. When I re-melted the orangettes for the ganache, they still tasted wonderful. But some of things just weren’t salvageable, it was such a mess of chocolate that had oozed out around paper, aluminum, etc.

    July 9, 2007 at 8:49 am

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