By Kelsey Englert
She didn’t believe us when we told her about the job ad.
We sat in her dining room. She kept a framed picture of her ex-husband on the wall behind her place at the head of the table.
The gig was in Switzerland. Chocolate taster. Smokers need not apply. Cultured palate a must. Salary 35,000 Euros.
Connie had been holding chocolate tastings at her house for years. After the holidays, when everything in the grocery store candy aisle went on sale, she’d snatch up every kind of fancy chocolate bar. She spent endless hours online, hunting down gourmet chocolate companies. She’d invite us over and set us up around the dining room table. No one was permitted to wear perfume. Cindy forgot once, and Connie sent her home and made us wait for an hour to begin while she aired out the room. She had a special cutting board strictly for chocolate. She’d cut each bar into squares and wash the knife after each bar was cut so not to contaminate the flavor of the next bar with the previous one. She’d coach us through each sample. Smell it first. Then break it. A good piece of chocolate must break with a sharp snap. Study the glossiness. Then place a small piece on the tongue and let it melt. Never chew. Take in the flavor, texture, and longevity of the chocolate. The best chocolate should echo on the tongue long after the last bit is swallowed. She could speak on the rich complexities of chocolate ad nauseam.
We called her the cocoa connoisseur.
She’d tell us how dark chocolate had more flavor compounds than red wine. But unlike wine tastings, there was no spit bucket. To waste chocolate was to sin.
“It’s my dream job,” she said, holding the torn food magazine advertisement in her hand. “This is what I’ve been waiting for. And I’ve been saying this all along, haven’t I? Good things come to those who toil. From my lips to God’s ears.”
We smiled in her dining room and encouraged her to apply.
“My mother said I’d never be anything but average. I’ve been sitting around here, letting my fifties pass me by. I was going to inch into retirement having never loved a single job I’d had. What a waste. Now I can have the perfect ending.” Her brown eyes glossed over like the finest chocolate.
“And Switzerland,” she said, glowing. “Europe. Can you imagine?” She paused, deep in thought. “Would I need a passport?” she asked softly.
We told her yes.
“Shit,” Connie said. “I’m not doing it.”