Technically this is a photograph of blossoms, not a tree. A moot point, I know. The reason for this picture of lovely apple blossom will become clear.
This week I was speaking with a local chocolatier. If you remember last week I mentioned that in Blàs; Roots in the Soil, a large, well really, a trailer load of apples is left on someone’s doorstep. From all of this comes a charming and fun-filled ‘apple weekend’. But that is not all.
A quality chocolate is later developed taking its favour from that community apple fuelled effort. It allowed me to entwine and root in my new chocolatier character firmly into the heart of the community
Of course, it also gave me a great excuse to include chocolate in my story. I thought long and hard on a name for this quality chocolate too. It is frightening how much time you can waste on little details such as these. However, given the character is partly Italian, I managed to come up with a suitable name, Mela Blàs. A fine mix of Italian and Scottish Gaelic. Mela (apple) seems easy enough to grasp for non-Italian speakers like me, while Blàs (warmth) is also the name of my fictional village.
The whole episode plays a small part in the overall story, but reason enough to contemplate what flavours should be in such a chocolate. Of course, apples would have to be in there somewhere. But should it be non-alcoholic so the bairns can eat it too? Would putting something unexpected into its makeup be worth considering? Lastly the acceptance that it would be nice to actually taste such a sweet.
A small step from there and I am considering the invention of a real chocolate. It was at that point I realised what little knowledge I possessed on the art of chocolate making.
All this mind meandering took part while I hammered out the first draft. Loads of time I thought to find out what I need to know. We even have a local chocolate marker in the area. I was bound to meet them at one of the local markets and be able to talk with them. One market later and everything shut down. Still time though.
A year has gone by and I am now at the stage where I need to find out more. I knew I would have to pick up the phone and call someone. Would I sound total bonkers to them? “I write about an imaginary community and would like to develop a real chocolate from an imagined one.” Thankfully, I appeared to sound totally normal to the chocolate maker. It confirmed I went to the right people.
Unfortunately, after speaking with Highland Thistle Chocolates, I found out my lack of knowledge is even worse than I thought.
There was talk about chemistry, infusions and temperatures, non-dairy, vegan and volumes. That was just the start, we had seasonal fruit and dandelions too and well, all sorts of quirky things I hadn’t even considered. It sounded to me like they would fit right in with my Blàs community.
The exciting outcome of all this is that Highland Thistle Chocolates are going to bring me some samples to try. They are going to develop my imaginary Mela Blàs and make it a real live taste sensation. Much to my relief, I no longer have to contemplate how to become a chocolatier myself.
I can’t wait to try their samples. Generally, no excuse is needed to eat chocolate but now I will have a positive reason to indulge.
It is amazing when I come to think of it how the development of a story can take you along paths you never expected. When I put that first word down I had no inkling about an apple weekend taking place, let alone a chocolate being developed as an outcome.
As a writer you are often on your own, sitting at a desk or on a computer. Meeting new people is not easy when you are locked away working. I had visits that allowed me to speak to and meet up with others. This year like many people I have not had that experience. Now I have a lovely excuse to re-engage with others.
I’m looking forward to seeing what Highland Thistle Chocolates will come up with. You can rest assured there will be photographs and indulgence. If you like to check them out for yourselves this is their website https://highlandthistlechocolates.co.uk/
Chocolate heaven here I come.