The area of the city I live and work in has a large Italian population that emigrated out from the 1950s onwards, and we South Australians are eternally grateful for their contribution to our culture and community. The supermarkets’ delicatessens are therefore fully stocked with the most delicious salamis, proscuitto, olives and pastas. However, on the sweet side of things, Italy is only half-heartedly represented in our shops with stale-ish sponge fingers for tiramisu chefs and dry hazelnut biscotti for dunking in cups of coffee.
Therefore I was mildly excited to see this Italian brand of chocolate in the supermarket near my work. Bianco Cuore, Al Latte. In English, the flavour is translated as ‘Milk Chocolate with a cereal filling.’ Not quite so appetizing perhaps, but my assumption was that it would be a rice crispie or biscuit type of inside, and seeing as it was lunchtime and I was hungry, I was very much looking forward to testing it for you, dear readers.
Upon opening the block, the obvious signs of oil smears on the foil was disconcerting, and it was with a sinking heart that I read on the back that ‘vegetable compound’ was in the list of ingredients. Damn. Still, I pressed on: after all, it was chocolate, it was new to my taste buds and I’d had to shove an elderly Italian Nonna out of the way to get it. (Luckily she wasn’t quite five foot tall compared to my five foot seven and it was on the highest shelf, so it was an easy victory).
Well, my haste and lack of good manners paid me back in full. This chocolate was gut-wrenchingly, soul-suckingly awful. Overly oily and sicker-than-sickly sweet with a very strong taste of condensed milk, it has been the only chocolate (apart from anything labeled ‘compounded’) that I struggled to not hawk back up onto my desk.
The nightmare of receiving a sugarless carob Easter egg during my mother’s health-nut days in the eighties were a pleasant memory compared to this shocker masquerading as imported, quality chocolate. The so-called ‘cereal filling’ had neither crunch nor identifiable flavours. It resembled a form of cream long past it’s use-by-date with an unnatural, somewhat disconcerting additional tang included.
Thoroughly depressed, I broke the remaining block into squares and tried passing it out during our team meeting in the afternoon. All present eyed the chocolate with suspicion: Why on earth was MillyMoo sharing chocolate around when she normally inhaled it with the wrapping still on? Despite their misgivings, the lure of free chocolate won them over, and all reached for a square.
The looks on their faces were priceless. Helen went grey; Catherine ran into the kitchen to spit it out and Jude remarked that, “This serves me right for ignoring my high cholesterol restrictions.” The others ate it politely, the agony clearly etched on their faces.
It was unanimous – Bianco is bad, bad bad!