Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Chocolate Club

Back for Seconds

ibarra chocolate 3
I've never been much of a joiner. Even when I was a kid, I only managed to be a part-time girl scout, joining just around cookie sale time, and quitting soon after. It's not so much that I'm like Groucho Marx, suspicious of any club that will have me as a member. I'm afraid it has more to do with my attention span. Or lack thereof.

But there was a club, years ago, that I was not only a member of, but a founding member. And I stayed in it until we disbanded, unofficially. The club's membership never rose above two. But it didn't really need more than two members. Because the dues we paid (I think a quarter a piece) were enough for our purpose.

View Chocolate Club in a larger map

The club existed solely to enable me and my friend, Cathy, about 7 years old at the time, to walk a couple of blocks from our homes to De Alba Tacqueria.

de Alba
De Alba Tacqueria was on Grove St. just north of Virginia St, in one of the small shop spaces at right
Sadly, I have no memory of the tacos they sold there; I'm sure they were delicious. Instead, Cathy and I bought a tablet of Ibarra chocolate, that cinnamon and almond scented chocolate used primarily to make Mexican hot chocolate.

ibarra chocolate 1

I don't remember actually making, not once, Mexican hot chocolate.  The Ibarra chocolate came in a bright yellow hexagonal box, but I’m sure I never bought a whole box.  The tablets, six to a box, were loosely wrapped in paper (unlike today’s boxes, with their hermetically sealed tablets).  It’s interesting De Alba was willing to sell separate tablets.   Did so few people buy Mexican chocolate then?

ibarra chocolate 2

I do remember taking our chocolate tablet back to the church on the corner. We had a few secret hideout spots there.

chocolate church path 2

My favorite spot was on the side of the church, behind an iron gate.  There was a staircase on the side, which no one ever seemed to use. 

chocolate church hideout

Sitting on the stoop, we broke our chocolate into wedges, and nibbled away, talking about what I don't remember. I'm also not entirely sure how often we met. Did we have a set day? A call to chocolate? Or did it all come down to when we had the dues available?

chocolate stained glass
 The view as we reclined with our chocolate
What I’d completely forgotten was the view we had as we sat back and ate our chocolate.  You have to wonder what sort of effect this early combined exposure to religion and chocolate had on me.  I do remember that those chocolate afternoons were peaceful ones.  And the Church of Chocolate does have some powerful alliteration!

Cathy, if you’re reading this I'd love to hear what you remember. And I wonder if it might not be time for a Chocolate Club meeting. I think I have the dues saved up.


Kathleen Bauer said...

I'll join! I'm sure we could get Luan, too. Which would be nice since she's got lots of chocolate.

And I remember the wax-paper wrapped tablets of Ibarra…so sad they've gone antiseptic!

Nancy Singleton Hachisu said...

Giovanna, lovely little Ibarra chocolate memory. I remember buying a one Kilo slab of chocolate in Mexico and lugging it back to Japan only to discover it was sweet and flavored with cinnamon and perhaps cloves. This was 20 years ago, before my sister married a Columbian and introduced me to "chocolate." As a child of the 60's my chocolate memory is a little less upscale. Our friends the Kautz's lived on the top of Skyline in Woodside and we would nab the jar of Ovaltine and bring some spoons along with, as we snuck up the hill and hid out behind a large rock, taking illicit spoonfuls of the dry powder. It doesn't seem to have the same sprightly crunch as the old days. Nancy

Giovanna said...

Nancy--your chocolate club sounds pretty fun as well. Do you know there's two types of Ovaltine, and one is a European formula? I think it's less sweet and maltier, perhaps more like the Ovaltine we remember.

And Kathleen, any time you've got your dues saved up, I'd be happy to meet and eat a chocolate bar.

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