My first taste of Ferrero's famous chocolate hazelnut spread came in the spring of 1991 in a dorm room at the predominantly female Agnes Scott College in Atlanta, Georgia. Her name was Deirdra. She was long and lithe and graceful, with hair like autumn leaves dancing in the wind.
She was impish and sweet and smelled of patchouli back when the scent was new and magical.
She did the squirrel dance for me, and she fed me Nutella.
It was the last time I tasted the mixture of ground hazelnuts, skim milk and cocoa for more than two decades. The taste was entwined with a sweet memory that hung in the middle of nowhere. Nothing led up to the meeting, and there wouldn't be another until long after waning adolescent romanticism had given way to more physical urges. It was a moment of magic, punctuated by a flavor.
I wasn't particularly fond of the flavor, as I recall.
I was expecting dark and rich, like a bittersweet chocolate frosting, and indeed those were part of the brief sampling. I wasn't prepared for the playful sweetness of the skim milk. Perhaps the lingering bitter aftertaste served as a reminder of chances not taken and words unspoken. Maybe I just didn't like hazelnuts.
I was perfectly content in my two decades of Nutella-less existence, but as of late the spread has gained an official cheering section in the form of Kate Cox and Tina Amini. Their combined adoration, bordering on worship, raised the mixture so high upon a pedestal that it could no longer be ignored.
Mainly I purchased it so I could take tantalizing pictures to tease them with.
Mmmmm, I guess.
Nutella began life as a poor man's substitute for real, delicious chocolate. Taxes on cocoa beans forced Pietro Ferrero of Piedmont, Italy to seek cheaper alternatives. Living in an area known for growing hazelnuts, Pietro did the best he could with what he had on hand. Mixing 70 percent hazelnut paste with 30 percent cocoa he created Gianduja.
Gianduja wasn't fun to say, so in 1963 Pietro's son revamped the recipe and renamed it Nutella, and history was made.
This section is just another excuse to tease Tina and Kate with pictures.
I mean, if I really had to explain in detail what Nutella resembles, it would ruin all the hard work I put into constructing that elaborate opening. One cannot rapidly shift gears from melancholy nostalgia to poop jokes.
Or maybe one can.
Being a spread, there are myriad ways and means to deploy the luxurious concoction. The key here is deployment — while it may be tempting to simply dig into the jar with a spoon and the best intentions, the human body was not designed to process the wild levels of rich sweetness contained in a direct spoonful of Nutella. In fact, as I soon discovered during my ill-advised experimentation, the body deploys some sort of mystical countermeasure to avoid over-saturation. I'm not quite clear on how it happened, but by the time I had finished my tenth spoonful the jar was mysteriously empty.
It took two days for my stomach to settle. Then I purchased another jar, and used it wisely.
Wrong Ways to Eat Nutella
- Directly from the spoon.
- Out of a hollow animal skull.
- Off of a lover's body. Seriously, this is never a good idea. Ew.
Correct Ways to Eat Nutella
- Dipping strawberries. (see the Strawberry Snacktaku Review)
- On wheat toast. (bread, toasted or non, is the ultimate intensity-cutting flavor conveyance)
- Out of a hollow animal skull. (Really depends on the situation)
The young man that sat inside a beautiful young woman's dorm room and made a concentrated effort to do anything other than acknowledge that he was a young man in a beautiful young woman's dorm room was, quite obviously, a complete and utter idiot. He should have tangled those autumnal curls betwixt his fingertips. He should have leaned in close to inhale the sweet scent of strange spices on her skin.
And while he was distracting her with that, he could have totally made off with the jar of Nutella. It's pretty delicious.
Snacktaku is Kotaku's take on the wild and wonderful world of eating things, but not eating meals. Eating meals is for those with too much time on their hands. Past critiques can be found at the Snacktaku review archive.