Endangered Species Chocolate
“Why do you have such a big stomach?” a charming child asked, poking me in the gut. It was inauguration day, so I took a deep breath and thought, “What would Obama do?” (Her mother and I had just concurred that the day was like waking up from an eight-year nightmare, and I'll still endorse the Mom's establishment, the Ukrainian Village's Café Ballou here in Chicago. The coffee shop offers splendid sandwiches and is named for the ship that brought her parents over, a timely reminder that we are a nation of immigrants.) Our president would doubtless handle it with humor and grace, and turn it into a teaching opportunity, so instead of telling the candid little lass about my assorted health afflictions and stress factors, or calling her an argument for birth control, I leaned over and said, “It's because I eat too much and don't exercise enough, so when you grow up, remember to exercise.” It's also because I am dedicated to the pursuit of the perfect chocolate, and it appears that the quest has ended.
Endangered Species Chocolate offers a range of reasonably priced indulgences that you can feel good about as you gorge. I will not divulge how long the samples lasted—or did not last. There's a pile of glossy paper and tinfoil to the right of my keyboard. It might be a bit sad, if I wasn't saving the planet from species die-off, a threat that some say is as significant as global warming. In addition to being ethically traded—the one political flare-up over the holidays was inspired by someone giving some Equal Exchange Fair Trade chocolate to my father—they give back to the planet, and include fun facts about gray wolves, sea otters, chimpanzees, and darling little spider monkeys on the interior of the wrappers. Apparently goji berries enhance 'chi,' maca is rich in phosphorous, and pecans are just packed full o' protein. Their seventy to seventy-two percent cocoa items are finally dark enough for me, not unto cooking chocolate bitterness, but with an edge, and lack any of the greasy mouthfeel you can find in truly industrial confections. I usually experience milk chocolate as too wussy for the effort, but theirs holds it own, and is indeed as smooth as the otters' luxuriant fur.
“Compassionate Action” specific to the species is also suggested. I would not object to some compassionate action myself, but recent volunteers are painfully far from aesthetic viablility, not cute like otters. One missed companion was built like the rare mountain gorilla, only 720 left in the wild. Recent suitors resemble orangutans, and an elusive long-eared jerboa. Depressing. Considering this, I want some chocolate. Does Endangered Species Chocolate offer a bar to save the manatee? There's a square of the mint left. It's a vicious cycle. This one's the last...