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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Death by Raw Chocolate Covered Dates

How innocent? I signed up for Raw Holiday Desserts Class with Chef Stacey—a local raw chef of some renown in Sacramento. My intentions were pure. Take the class, taste the delights, then determine which recipe to make for my cousin’s Thanksgiving feast. Having zero experience in making raw confections, I had no choice but to go this route. You are following the logic. Yes?

So what happened next truly was not my fault.

I arrived exactly on time to the lovely Rancho Cordova home. Greeted by several nice ladies, I signed in and paid my entrance fee. Cucumber-laced pitcher of water and a bowl of celery sticks adorned the foyer table. Picking up a couple sticks, I sat next to a “Cooking with Chef Stacey” veteran. We talked endlessly about raw foods, desserts, evils of tap water, the loss of favor for agave syrup, and the mortality of bees.

Chef Stacey worked the kitchen like Emeril Live with one important difference nothing cooked—a dehydrator replaced the microwave and the Vitamix 5200 Blender replaced about everything else. She made orange-persimmon cheesecake, chocolate-dipped dates with orange-spice almonds, a blueberry-chia tart, and dark chocolate caramel cups. All raw. Stacey hinted we would taste later and that we could take items home. As time ticked by and trays of delights passed my face, I remembered I had not had a dessert in four months, a long time for this former heavy weight. Finally, the chef’s assistant sliced the cheesecake.

A good size piece slapped down onto the china plate, a fork added then passed to the first person in the first row. Several minutes passed before I received my plate. I skipped dinner so that I would not go over my one thousand calorie diet even if I had a bite or two of dessert.

Persimmon is not my favorite fruit. I like the taste not the pucker affects the flesh offers. Still the fruit, nuts, spices, and honey excited long neglected taste buds. My well-intention one bite plan turned into sucking up the cheesecake and scraping the nut crust across the plate into my salivating mouth. Before I could set my fork down, the plate was snatched from my hand and returned with a gooey blueberry tart plopped in the center of the dish. Blueberry. Good. My favorite. In no time at all, I consumed all of the tart. Looking around I found that I was not alone in inhaling the samples. All ten women managed to keep up with the assistant’s refills that included the last two chocolate tastings.

My head started spinning as soon as the first chocolate bite hit my tongue. My temples screamed for a hot cup of coffee to cut the sugar sliding through my stomach. I knew better than to ask for the roasted bean for it is forbidden in the raw world. My suffering continued when one of the guests offered me coconut milk laced with probiotics to “cut the sugar action.” Politely, I accepted the drink and swallowed what tasted like liquid yogurt. Normally that would not have been a problem but having consumed, in less than ten minutes, four servings of honey based desserts, my stomach thought the sour liquid was a cruel joke.

The food orgy continued with offers of samples to be taken home. Ladies pulled Rubbermaid containers from their purses and lined up at the counter to claim the booty. Unprepared for this stage, I stated to no one in particular that I did not have a container and therefore would not be taking home the gifted desserts. A collective gasp came from the crowd. A search was on to find an unclaimed container. I prayed that none would be found as I was having problems feeling my jaw. The lady to my left proudly held a container just for me and the assistant chef filled it. The sugar hit everyone—the once quiet restrained group now giggled, chatted, hugged and gained volume. I begged pardon to leave, stepped out of the house and into the night. Walking seemed as difficult as keeping my stomach at ease. I climbed into the car and sat the plastic box of treats next to me. I actually considered eating one more chocolate. Oh yes, I did consider it. Thankfully, I had enough reason left in my sugar-shocked brain to stop myself.

I drove home. I lived. I gained two-tenths of a pound.

No more dessert classes.