C’est la difference!


Paris, Île-de-France, France
September 06, 2016




I want to try a thought experiment.

I want you to say two words out loud and, when you do, think first of how they are pronounced and second of the thought that first comes to mind when you say them. It’s okay. No one is listening. Tell you what, if you prefer and you find these words embarrassing to say out loud, whisper them.


“Hot Chocolate.”

Now, freeze! I can predict with near certainty, from half a world away, how you reacted. First, you said, “Hott Chaulk-Lit.” Second, your lips tightened in a polite “thank you for asking but no” kind of way. And third, you’re first thought was one of two disgusting alternatives: either (1) the powdered Swiss Miss you sprinkled into boiling water shortly after crawling out of your sleeping bag while backpacking and thought “damn this tastes good”, only to find, when you tried it at home, it tasted terrible, or (2) the even more disgusting brown water that comes from the dispenser behind the counter that you bought for your kids, hoping to appease them , all the while thinking, “how in the hell can they drink that stuff.”

I know. I agree. I had some at SFO waiting for my plane.

Oh, but my friends, there is another world. Believe me. I have been there. I know. It is not far.

Follow me . . .

No, not here, at Saint-Chappelle:

Upper Chamber Sainte-Chapelle
No, not here at Notre Dame:
The Roof of Notre Dame on a Rainy Day


Those are fine, I guess, if you’re after . . . I don’t know . . . something like salvation, redemption, enlightenment. I guess . . . if you’re in to that kind of thing.

But if you truly want to experience the kind of grace that comes with sublime bliss, if you really want to reach out and touch the face of God, there is only one City and only two places to which one must return each year for prayer.


Petite Déjeuner at Angelina



I am an unashamed devotee. I endure sideways glances from other “adults” at Starbucks when the barrista says in a loud clear voice, “Rob, your extra hot hot chocolate is ready.” I own a double boiler to melt my chocolate bars. Melt my chocolate in a microwave?? You jest. How else, but with a double boiler, can one slowly melt the bars of chocolate, never powder, that are the start of a fine cup of cocoa.

I own a laser thermometer. De requerre. How else can one know the exact moment before the molecules in cocoa butter separate?

I have an account at Chocosphere where I can order just the right combination of 80% and 55% bars from all over the world which I mix and blend, over and over, trying to just once, just once, approximate what is served each day at Angelina or Les Deux Magots.

If you look in each of these photographs you will see a small pitcher. Inside….. it is sinful.

Adjectives don’t work. Roget himself would be at a loss for words to describe what I’m trying to convié. Only the sound can convey the difference.

Say “ Chalk-Lit” my friends and you will forever think Hersheys Kiss. But, ohhhh, mes amis, say “chocolat” (show-ko-law) and magically, by the sound itself, you leave childhood and arrive breathless in adulthood, as if you were Johhny Depp kissing Juliette Binoche.

C’est la difference. N’est-ce pas?

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