Writing: Chocolate

Colour writing coursework in the style of Metropolitan magazine (Eurostar) – 07/01/13

As the light begins to fade, the sky is tinged a dusky shade of mauve. The crisp December air smells of wood smoke and damp leaves. It’s a few minutes past 4pm on the Saturday before Christmas and La Cabosse d’Or, a tiny chocolate shop in the nondescript Belgian village of Sauvagemont, is thronging with customers.

A woman wearing a long faux fur coat and a harried expression disappears into the shop. The bell tinkles as I the shut the door behind me. With barely enough room for eight people, it is packed. The scent of pure cocoa envelops you instantly: dark and almost bitter. The shop is cool, for obvious reasons, but the soft lighting and wood panelling that lines the walls give the impression of warmth. Facing the door is the counter where row upon row of handmade pralines, truffles and marzipans are enticingly arranged.

Gleaming milk chocolate praline hearts draw you in. Beside them sit more milk chocolate shapes: plump ganache-filled walnuts; thick nougatine leaves; dainty marbled ears of corn with a crunchy hazelnut filling. Bulbous white manons filled with coffee cream are topped with a delicate chocolate coffee bean. Beside them, dark pralines in the shape of sphinx heads look on imposingly.

Three shop assistants follow orders from customers who linger in front of the counter, pondering which chocolates to select for their ballotin, or box. Céline has worked at La Cabosse d’Or for longer than anyone can remember and has always been suspiciously skinny.

From the other side of the glass, a podgy finger jabs in the direction of the milk chocolate praline button mushrooms. Poised with ballotin in hand, Céline picks out two, nestling them in the box beside a couple of dark chocolate cherries. She steps back so her colleague can reach for a square caramel and they continue this well-choreographed dance until each box is sufficiently heavy with pralines and marzipans.

“That’s 493g,” Céline calls over the counter to the large woman she is serving, taking the box off the scales.

The woman asks for a delicately piped cornet of gianduja in a minute golden paper cone. Céline pops two in with a wink and closes the 500g box, now generously overfilled. She takes it to the till, where she deftly ties red and green ribbons around it, curling the ends with her scissors. The blade makes a satisfying scraping noise as she pulls the ribbons taught against it.

Opposite the large wooden counter where the till sits, the inbuilt shelves brim with traditional festive delicacies: chocolate clogs filled with colourful jelly fruits, marrons glacés and rosy marzipan piglets. Miniature baby Jesuses made from pale pink sugar paste fill one shelf while chocolate Father Christmases form a jolly line-up along another.

Céline hands the woman her change, wishing her a joyeux Noël. A tinkle of the bell followed by a gust of cool wind, and the woman has disappeared into the darkness that has descended outside.

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