Ode to the humble chocolate chip

It’s chocolate time again, folks! I’ve blogged about chocolate before, specifically about the very depressing fact that world chocolate consumption is exceeding production, putting us at risk of having this most sublime of treats go extinct on us.

That thought, however, was simply too depressing, so I will rather dedicate today to a celebration of the chocolate chip (invented in the 1930’s by Ruth Graves Wakefield). In case you’re wondering, today, 15 May, is Chocolate Chip Day.

Chocolate chips about to liven up some otherwise plain banana muffins.  Hmmm, can't wait for the final product! (© All Rights Reserved)
Chocolate chips about to liven up some otherwise plain banana muffins. Hmmm, can’t wait for the final product!
(© All Rights Reserved)

Now a chocolate chip is an interesting thing. Unlike a slab of chocolate, or a fancy box of chocolates, chocolate chips don’t share that level of sheer indulgent decadence. No, they’re much more subtle – usually hiding away inconspicuously in the fridge or grocery cabinet. When they do appear, however, they can stand their ground against all kinds of exotic ingredients to play a part in the most extravagant culinary creations. Forget about chocolate chip cookies (good as they can be!) – I’m talking about chocolate chip mousse pyramids, blondie-brownie pies, chocolate chip waffles, chocolate chip and mascarpone cupcakes or, wait for it… the chocolate chip martini!

But aside from these moments of mouth-bursting glory, the chocolate chip remains quiet and unassuming in its corner of the cupboard.

It is exactly this indistinct nature of the chocolate chip that makes it so great. Even when all the other chocolate in the house has been greedily consumed during late night chocolate cravings, there’s likely to still be some chocolate chips in the cupboard, ready to be whipped out and made into something special.

In a way, life is much like chocolate (where have I heard that before!?). You get your slab-of-chocolate people – striking, impressive and in your face, but often too conspicuous for their own good. Then there’s the pick-a-mix chocolate types – all dressed up and fancy, but often more sight than substance. And then there’s the chocolate chip people, the salt of the earth, the unassuming ones who come to save the day when all the other chocolates are gone.

So let’s use Chocolate Chip Day to celebrate the chocolate chip, its inventor Ruth Wakefield, and all the chocolate chip people out there!

Keeping an eye out for smoke and mirrors

The 29th of March is Smoke and Mirrors Day, also known as the Festival of Smoke and Mirrors.

The phrase ‘smoke and mirrors’, which generally refers to fooling or deceiving someone into believing what is not, originated from the old magic shows in the 19th century, when magicians used strategically positioned mirrors to produce illusions for the audience. At times it was necessary to move the mirrors, or to secretly change something else on stage, and this was hidden from onlookers using well-timed bursts of smoke.

'Smoke and mirrors' - patterns created through repeated mirroring of candle smoke.(© All Rights Reserved)
‘Smoke and mirrors’ – patterns created through repeated mirroring of candle smoke.
(© All Rights Reserved)

Smoke and mirrors day is there to remind us (the naive and gullible among us, in particular), that things are not always as they seem. Politicians, salespeople, entertainers – these are all people skilled at fooling their audience through cleverly applied verbal and non-verbal smoke and mirrors.

So while being distrustful of anyone and everyone is not a healthy way to go through life, we can definitely all do with a healthy dose of scepticism – watch out for those smoke and mirrors, people! 🙂