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All the way from PA

In my former life, I traveled the world for work.  A lot.  And I got to taste a lot of amazing foods prepared by a lot of amazing chefs.  With the freshest and best ingredients.  So I like to consider myself a foodie.  Someone who enjoys food for pleasure.

That does not mean though that I am a food snob.  But rather someone who really appreciates flavor.  Now I have to tell you a dirty little secret of mine.  Though there are amazing chocolates all over the world — many of which I have tasted — at the end of the day, the chocolate that gives me more pleasure than any other is a simple Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar with almonds.

I know, some of you other foodies are cringing and gasping at my unsophisticated choice.  I wish I could explain it.  I can’t.  Perhaps it’s that the flavor of a Hershey’s bar is tied up in memories of childhood and “simpler and easier times.”

When I was young, it was a plain Hershey’s bar that pleased me the most.  My mother always favored the one with almonds and it made no sense to a little boy with an as yet undeveloped palate.  But as I grew older I came to understand the way the flavor of my Hershey’s bar became enhanced with a bite of almond in it.

Now, I tell you all of this because today I bought a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar with almonds at Coral.  I waited until I got in the car and I bit into that bar and thought, “Wait, that doesn’t taste like the Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar with almonds that I eat in the U.S.!”

It seemed like it had a richer chocolate flavor.  Still milk chocolate, but with stronger chocolate flavor.  And I thought, “Really, they had to change the flavor in Ecuador?  They couldn’t stick with the original?”  I was a little put off that my memories were being toyed with.  Of course that doesn’t mean I didn’t finish it.  Every last bit of it.

And I’ll have to admit it tasted better.  That little extra bit of chocolate intensity made it a better chocolate bar.  It seems that bringing it here to Ecuador really did improve it.

At times I forget that.  That some things here are actually better than in the U.S.  Of course we all miss some things and can’t help but compare other things here to those things we loved in the U.S.  But that doesn’t’ mean we should blind ourselves to when they are better.

Like the price of gas for example. Or how easy it is to buy amazing flowers every day here in Cuenca.  Or that some doctors here still make house calls.  Or that groceries are still carried to your car or taxi for you.

Some things are better here.  And surprisingly, even some things that aren’t might just seem like they are because we are here.  Some things might seem easier, or friendlier, or less expensive, or faster, or slower (for the better), just because we are here.

Like how a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar with almonds might just seem to taste better here because Ecuador is known for chocolate.  When in fact, it is the same Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar with almonds as in the U.S.

Because you see, when I got home and went to take the wrapper from that Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar with almonds to throw it in the trash, I read the back of it.  It was made in the U.S.  And imported here by an Ecuadorian company.  It came all the way from Hershey, PA to have me buy it here in Cuenca, Ecuador.

So why did it taste better here?  [I mean, it really tasted better here.]

Maybe it’s just that my life is getting to a “simpler and easier time” here in Ecuador.  Just maybe.

Now stop being such a chocolate snob and go get yourself a Hershey’s bar right now.  You’ll feel better about things after you eat it.

I’m just sayin.’