There were two Thorntons branches in Sheffield when I was little, but since only one of them was near a bus stop, family shopping trips always involved, until I had possession of cash myself, a certain amount of money. amount of counterfeit money. casual manipulation, ruthlessly opportunistic. Basically, if you could persuade your mother to take is route (as opposed to that route) around town, you’d end up at the aforementioned bus stop instead of the very gloomy one in front of Barry Noble’s Roxy Nite Spot, at which point there was a good chance that she would buy you a special piece of candy while you waited for the number 51. The best strategy was to appear humbly helpless; to breathe in the buttery smells emanating from your door without ever ordering the products themselves. Satisfied by his patience, the offer would be made, unless the bus showed up first, in which case he would have to settle for a corned beef sandwich at home.
I thought of those shopping trips from a long time ago while reading the Tony Thornton obituaries, the former president of the chocolate maker, who died in January (his grandfather founded the company, which recently announced plans to close all its stores, in Sheffield in 1911). Ah, for the days when my idea of an incredibly fancy chocolate was a Viennese truffle. But in these times, thinking is not enough, right? When we arrive, pale and blinking, on the first anniversary of the first confinement, sudden cravings assail me, urgent longings on which I must act. immediately. Putting down the newspaper, I ran to my desk. Minutes later, I added a special candy bag to my weekly grocery tour, where it was joined by several other items I hadn’t eaten in years, the most embarrassing of which was … actually, I can’t bear to tell you that. .
Hunger is a simple thing for me. My stomach growls and my mind responds: what’s for dinner? Cravings are different. They have to do with the heart, not the belly. Like everyone else, I am restless, if not exactly bored. The world, having grown so small, tiny things have become, I know, disproportionately important: God forgive the person who stands between me and my first cup of coffee these days. But my wishes are also proxies: substitutes for people, places and, above all, better times. Although the things I want are often not good for me, a lot of them are processed and sugary, otherwise they are absolutely what I need. I’d rather have a date with Curly Wurly than no meeting at all.
However, it is exhausting. My brain throbs with demands: custard tarts, Parma ham; chicken livers, Love Hearts; a certain type of yogurt. My mind is not a mobile phone and I can’t just turn off its nagging notifications. Worse still, the delicious things I crave sometimes turn out not to be so delicious after all. The special candy, when it arrived, was too sweet (I’ve gotten too used to high cocoa solids and sea salt) and now it hangs around in a drawer, reminding me of my madness every time I reach for the corkscrew (which is too often, but that’s a different story).
I try to ignore the ticker tape in my head. But I am so suggestible. No activity is safe. As I read Philip Roth’s new bio, I thought of New York and wished for that spent bacon that American diners love. Looking Call my agent My fantasies about Parisian brasseries got so crazy that I wasted 40 minutes searching for snail dishes (snails themselves weren’t available in the supermarket of my choice). Passing by a long-closed favorite Vietnamese restaurant, I experienced a craving for crunchy pancakes so intense that when I got home I held a bottle of fish sauce under my nose, better than I could inhale it, like perfume. It goes on and on, this cycle of desire and satiety (temporary). A few moments ago, my eyes fell on the shelf next to my desk, where there is a photograph of my dad. It got me thinking of junket and a certain type of spicy lamb stew, and in a moment, I’ll duly add the ingredients needed to make both to my virtual shopping cart, the third (or fourth) time I’ll visit today. .
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism