Cherries before Easter

Liqueur chocolates with cherries in them! I could scarcely believe my eyes. There, on the shelf between the light bulbs and bread rolls in the little shop servicing part of the village, were the Italian chocolates with liqueur inside – and a real, whole cherry. Even more remarkable, this packet of delights cost only €1.10.

My mother was an assiduous writer of Christmas cards. She had green baize to cover the rather ornate but solid dining room table, and this served as protection against playing cards and greeting cards alike. One day, when my sister and I were still children, she had a box of chocolates in front of her at the table; a gift, I think. She said that we might not like the taste of this particular kind of chocolate, each one fashioned in the shape of a bottle. We both assured her that we would. Our only previous tasting of a coffee liqueur had not been a pleasure, but we could not be deterred.

There was a condition attached to eating this special type of chocolate: we were not to bite into it, but put it into our mouth whole and suck on it until the magic happened, whatever that meant.

As if in some sacred new ritual, we removed the silver paper wrappers carefully and did as we were told. We gazed across the table at each other, our cheeks bulging. We waited.

I shall always remember the look in my mother’s eye — a cross between knowing and sharing a secret — and her smile, at the precise moment when that sensuous whoosh of flavour exploded in my mouth.

©2017 Allison Wright

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