Sometime around a decade ago, I stopped looking at the “Job Opportunities” pages in the newspapers. It could have been around the time the youngster in the family found himself a job — and to his delight, discovered more entertainment in his work than he’d had in his happy-go-lucky existence until then. It could have been when I realised that I would prefer to be free to visit that now gainfully employed youngster and also indulge in some travelling to places I’d secretly noted down in a bucket list I did not even want to acknowledge I had prepared. It could even have been that I was content to try to breathe life into nebulous plots and sketchy characters rather than take my chances with the office-going population.
However, on and off, I still glance at job descriptions and run my eye over the “wanted” ads, just to see how much has changed since I was out there in the fray, searching for something that suited me.
But more often, I read reports of the unique jobs on offer — and try as I may to remain away from it all, I sometimes experience a pang. Something goes click in my head and awakens a yearning in my heart. I too would like to be a chocolate taster, for example. I envision a day filled with the delightful aroma of chocolate and imagine the sheer high of a burst of flavour on the tongue — not to forget drinking in the tantalising sight of melted, gooey chocolate everywhere …
Despite being a confirmed chocoholic, however, I have to admit that I would probably make a lousy recruit. My range of criticisms would be: “Great — the best — better than the best,” or some similar set of superlatives that would not really express a discerning opinion and would not help a chocolatier who seeks to experiment and rate varied flavours.
Around the time that Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was brought to life on screen, we had the opportunity to visit a chocolate factory in one of the smaller cities in our country. Our imaginations were already in overdrive when we reached the factory premises and we visualised brimming vats of molten chocolate everywhere. To our disappointment, we heard that the section where we had anticipated seeing all those vats of chocolate was not open that day for viewing. Instead we were led across to the department that made our version of M & Ms and the chocolate centred “eclairs”.
After being given an intimidating list of dos and don’ts, strict instructions about keeping a safe distance from the machines, and provision of head covers and foot covers (like we would use in an intensive care unit in a hospital), we were led around. (Children were not allowed and I was glad that our child was an adult by then, even if he — and I — had failed to grow up where chocolate was concerned!)
The various processes were explained patiently. Everyone was all business but if they intended to make the tour into a routine one, they failed miserably. We were on a chocolate “high” and we found everything we saw thrilling and fascinating — and mouth-watering too! And the icing on our cake of delight as we left was a little bag of goodies to see us through the journey home.
I guess, for people who spend eight to ten hours a day in an atmosphere redolent with the aroma of chocolate and caramel and butterscotch, chocolate making is just a job — and so also is chocolate tasting.
I wonder if it would be the same for those of us with a sweet tooth, who believe that it is a dream come true?
Cheryl Rao is a journalist based in India.