Choc full of writing goodness
The first group of students to complete the University of Adelaide's new Graduate Certificate in Food Writing graduated in Bonython Hall on 30 July.
The first of its kind in Australia, the new online course was launched this year drawing on the University's expertise in creative writing and gastronomy, and some well-known names in the writing and food writing arenas.
As a step away from the Adelaidean's usual commentary this month, we present a piece written by one of the graduates as part of their Food Writing studies.
Box Office Bombe by Stephanie Santich
I'm devastated. Haigh's have discontinued their peppermint marrons, the cornerstone of my petits fours palette. There's something about the delicate shell shape, half-dipped in darkest chocolate, that suggests a certain bygone age - one that is more elegant, more refined, and certainly more decadent than ours. It calls to mind forbidden and archaic luxuries - turtle soup or tortoiseshell cigarette holders, and other extravagant fancies such as baroque ice statues, champagne fountains or moulded pats of butter.
The sweet is simplicity itself - creamy peppermint fondant pressed into a rococo mould and coated on one side with Haigh's finest bittersweet. It's a wintry candy, like the frosty glare of a film noir siren, the chocolate as sharp and barbed as a Myrna Loy quip, as deep and sultry as an Ava Gardner gaze. It's dirty like a cigarette, the swirling heavy-lidded Marlene Dietrich kind. It's something Dick Powell would have scorned as a frivolity, a folly, a burnt-out nightclub singer's secret vice.
It's the sort of chocolate that's too plain and austere to have found its way into a plush, heart-shaped box or a paper bag at the talkies. It's the kind that photographs well, but would never be found in the society pages. It's the sort of chocolate that isn't really a chocolate, but dresses that way for fun. The kind that doesn't make your fingers sticky, and that all the other chocolates want to be, simply because they can't. The peppermint marron scorns the opulence of, say, a rose or violet cream. It shrinks from the gauche modernism of lime fondant or raspberry noyeau, but looks upon the native brittles with veiled interest, as if their pedigrees might prove worthy of investigation. A peppermint marron will never stain your dress or entice a filling from its niche. It will never drip inelegantly from your mouth or lend itself to being poked surreptitiously with a questing thumb. One never need fear that the peppermint marron might be masquerading as something delicious, only to splurt into your mouth a horror of strawberry custard.
They sell it naked, although this too is soon to be phased out. Stripped of its coat of sable, the peppermint marron becomes a bon bon, the province of children. No longer nobly, darkly, mysteriously cloaked, like a sea shell hiding within its coils a precious heartbeat, its nudity cries out to grubby fingers, its dark armour no longer a deterrent.
So I can't say I'm impressed with Haigh's decision. I feel personally slighted, and I'm sure my reputation as a host will suffer. I haven't been this irritated since their chocolate nonpareil were taken off the market. I huff and puff and the salesgirl tries to mollify me with an apricot layer cream, which I'm aware has a distinguished reputation in this State, but which dribbles into my hand like a small and petulant child. What a bore, I think to myself as I stalk out of the shop with a chocolate frog weighing close to a pound. It'll take months of diligent tasting to find a suitable replacement.