Panos’ Perspective on Claudio’s Cacao

Today, I am joined by special guest writer, Palwasha Khatri.

On July 7, 2012, Palwasha and I visited Alegio’s Chocolate in Berkeley. The owner, Panos Panagos (which is the most adorable name ever!), tried to guess our majors but failed horribly. Then, we guessed his in one try.

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Panos took us on a virtual tour of the history of chocolate. He told us that the cacao beans in his chocolate were straight from Sao Tome and Principe in West Africa. Panos’ business partner, Claudio Corallo, currently works in the tropical islands of Sao Tome and Principe with his family. After introducing us to Claudio’s unique chocolate, Panos gave us a cacao bean to sample. It wasn’t as great as expected. 

Alegio

Cacao beans and the unauthorized biography of Claudio Corallo

Then, came the chocolate tasting. These are all the chocolates we tried:

  • 100% cacao
  • 80% cacao
  • 80% with crystallized sugar
  • 75% cacao
  • 75% with orange
  • 75% with salt and pepper
  • 75% with aged grapes
  • 75% with espresso
  • 100% ginger balls (Steve Jobs’ favorite)
Claudio Corallo Chocolate

So delicious

There was another couple who tasted chocolate that day with us. Their favorite was the ginger balls. We didn’t like it as much as they did. Some people like a lot of ginger; we don’t. Palwasha’s favorite was the espresso chocolate and Regina’s favorite was the orange chocolate. Panos told us to visit soon and we said we would. It was sad leaving him because he was so adorable and friendly.

The most interesting thing we learned from this experience though was that major chocolate companies use mostly vanilla and very little cacao, which is why Panos thinks his chocolate is authentic. Panos explained that society has gotten so used to tasting the vanilla in chocolate that people don’t realize what real chocolate is supposed to taste like. As a matter of fact, after our chocolate tasting, Panos gave us “regular” chocolate to compare to Alegio’s chocolate. We could definitely tell that there was a huge difference…not in a good way.

Panos has now ruined store-bought chocolate for us.  

Karma Sucks: When I Fractured My Pinky

The summer before my senior year of high school, I went on daily walks with my sister. We would walk down to Crown Beach and back while playing this childish game we made up called “The Biting Game” where whoever bites the other person the most before we return home is the winner for the day.

On June 29, 2010, Angela and I were almost home; we had one more block left. I had this elaborate plan that would ensure me the last bite just as we would make it home. When we were about 30 steps from the house, I leaned over, bit Angela on the shoulder, and sprinted away. I was congratulating myself for being so smart as Angela wailed in protest behind me.

And then…karma hit.

Here’s what I remember of that moment:

I was cutting through some plants in front of the driveway when I felt my right foot get caught on something solid. The next thing I knew, I was airborne. I specifically remember thinking, “So this is what flying feels like.” My flight must have lasted a quarter of a second but it honestly felt like I was in the air for an eternity. Then I landed on my face. Hard. I can clearly recall the feeling as my cheek dragged across concrete. When I finally skidded to a stop with my face functioning as brakes, I heard Angela’s hysterical laughter coming up beside me. I sat up, feeling dazed, but found myself cracking up at the stupidity of this whole thing.

“Are you okay?” Angela managed to get out in between fits of laughter.

“Yeah, but my hand hurts, and I’m too scared to look at it,” I replied.

“Who cares about your hand? Look at your face! It looks like you got beat up.”

“Can you just look at my hand and tell me what happened to it?”

Angela took one look at my left hand as I held it up to her, and her amused expression swiftly changed into one of horror and disgust.

“Is it bad?” I asked, terrified. The back of my hand felt like it had been dipped into lava. 

“It’s not too bad,” Angela said. “Look for yourself.”

I fearfully turned my hand around…and frowned. “It hurts a lot more than it looks,” I said.

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My hand after I put some antibiotic cream on it

We went into the house where I immediately put some antibiotic cream on it. Then, Angela and I figured that I must have landed on not only my face but also the back of my left hand.

About a month later, the injury had healed completely save for the faint scar on my knuckle. But that’s when I realized I couldn’t straighten out my pinky all the way. Once, I tried forcing it straight but it was impossible and caused a lot of discomfort. So I went to the doctor.

The doctor examined my finger, asking me where it hurt the most and how I managed to do this to it. After a quick x-ray, she told me that I had fractured my pinky and the bone had healed the wrong way. The two halves of the bone had molded back together in the wrong spot which was why I couldn’t straighten out my finger completely. 

“Is there any way to fix it?” I asked.

“Well, we can break it again and align the bone correctly,” the doctor said, jokingly I hoped.

I gave her a weird look. 

“There’s nothing we can really do about it. Not at this point,” she explained. “It’s too late.” So she sent me home with less money and a still-crooked finger.

To this day, I can’t straighten out my left pinky. My sister likes to make fun of me by imitating the way it looks with her own pinky. So I bite her. (Just kidding.) Just a few days ago, Angela said to me, “If you hadn’t bitten me that one day, you’d have a normal pinky.” This is true. Karma bit me in the pinky, hard. 

The moral of the whole experience is this: Don’t bite your sibling unless you want to fracture your finger. I learned this the hard way.

Note: Since that fateful day, Angela and I have stopped playing “The Biting Game.” I advise you never to even start. 

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My finger today

The Great Swim Meet of 2001

On August 11 and 12, 2001, I was competing in 6 events at the local swim meet.

  • 25 Free
  • 25 Fly
  • 25 Breast
  • 25 Back
  • 50 Free
  • 100 I.M.

Yes, I know. That’s a lot of 25s, but I was 8. It was okay back then.

Anyways, I kind of had a rivalry with this other girl from a different team although I can’t remember her name or which team she was from. She competed in all 6 of my events and believe it or not, won the first 5 of them. I came in 2nd to her every time and I hated standing on the 2nd highest podium for the medal awards, trying to be proud of my silvers while she flaunted her golds.

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My 5 silver medals

Eventually, like the setting of a dramatic sports movie, it came down to the last race of the meet: the 25 Back.

The other 5 girls and I jumped into the pool to get set for the backstroke. By that point, I had pretty much resolved to place 2nd again; after seeing how the other 5 races had turned out, I wouldn’t have been surprised. Additionally, the backstroke was my weakest stroke.

The shot was fired and I threw myself backwards underwater. I don’t have an exact recollection of that race but I do remember watching the clouds roll by as I flailed my way down the length of the pool.

When I hit the finish mark, I took off my goggles and swim cap and climbed out of the pool. That’s when my dad told me I had…won. I looked back into the pool, into Lane 4 where my rival was staring daggers at me. Backstroke was my weakest stroke but I guess it was even weaker for her.

At the awards ceremony, I waited excitedly for my name to be called last, for me to take that first-place spot atop the podium for the first time in two days. As I proudly climbed the steps to my place with the sound of scattered applause in the background, I passed that girl slowly, taking my time. When I took my position on top of the podium, the girl whispered to me, “Finally.” Naturally, I ignored her. I received the coveted gold medal and waved it around to the crowd.

And that’s how the Great Swim Meet of 2001 ended.

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Gold

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