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“Over My Shoulder…”

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"Over My Shoulder..."
by Steve H Kehoe
When we remember great men who have gone before us, we laud them mostly for their contributions to our health, freedom, and welfare. Such a man I revere most highly was the Italian Pietro Ferrero, (No! Not "Ferrari") whose lasting contribution to our palates was created and released upon the culinary buying public as recently as 1963. Developed from an earlier (1949) form of sandwich spread, this delicacy ranks right up there with other famous Italians, such as Christopher Columbus, who discovered (maybe) the New World, and Enrico Fermi, who successfully orchestrated the first splitting of the atom, or the movie idol Marcello Mastroianni, the ladies' heart-throb for decades.
You know you've got too much time on your hands-maybe especially during the Holiday season-when you tune in the various food channel cooking shows. Which one is my favorite? Not gonna say for sure-there are too many candidates to choose a winner. Rather say that I have lived for 66 years, which have largely robbed me of the power of any future surprises, save the one(s) expected when I shuffle off this mortal coil and pass into an eternal dimension. Note that I say "an" rather than "the", for who is so knowledgeable about what The Creator has in store; Let us not limit His power to choose for us!
But, lo, for sixty-five of my sixty-six years I have lived without the experience of this tasty treat that M. Ferrero so graciously invented, and I am the poorer for it, but at the same time, ever the more blissful, having even at this late stage of my life's dramas, been introduced to it. I am speaking of Nutella. Comprised largely of both chocolate and the flavor or hazelnut, this creamy spread is unrivalled-yes, even by peanut butter-when it comes to pleasing the palate. The Celestial residents of Olympus have for once been upstaged in their dining pleasure! No amount of ambrosia-ceaseless as their supply was/is-could surpass Nutella in sheer chocolaty delight! By itself, the product could have easily started a permanent split between the gods and the mere race of humans, should the Olympians had desired that no one but they could enjoy such lustful pleasure as the daily dosing of Nutella. One is tempted-but due to the excessive caloric count, thankfully restrained-to consume a whole jar at one sitting. But restraint-and the desire to live out one's life without the suffering of excess-comes thankfully into play! Some restraint, in truth. It is on the order of adopting celibacy as a way of life-nearly!

My first-remarkable for so late in life-taste experience of this delectable delight called to mind several other "firsts", none of which need enumerating here. The discoveries of early youth somehow seem to pale before the (in my case) late-in-life, totally unexpected serendipity of finding this decadent pleasure! Suffice to say that food has been a passion of mine since-well-since I no longer minded things touching each other on my plate. From that day forward, which must have been sometime in my college days, when most of us gave up form for substance, I became permanently indentured to good food. Though there were certain other sirens-other temptresses-a lack of portion control crept insidiously into a lot of my routines at about the same time. From time to time, though, we tend to forget certain delicacies that we obsessed about in our teens and twenties. Nutella would certainly not have been one of those, if in fact, I had so long ago been able to enjoy this number one fantasy food among our great pantheon of delights.
It was the severe shortage of chocolate following WW2 that inspired Signore Ferrero to concoct his marvelous blend. In doing so, he passed (in this writer's opinion, in truth) directly from the range of mere mortal men, into the holy realm of earth-bound creators, for which good works they shall be forever known to a grateful constituency! For all we know, he may have been assumed, body and soul, directly into heaven-he certainly deserved the favor! The grave could not contain him, so great a culinary genius was he! The details and the origin-the town of Alba, in the Langhe district of Piedmont, so the story goes-are as unimportant as the first glance of an aspiring lover to his objet du amour. What counts is the finished product-no matter what called it into being, or for what measure. From Gianduja, Ferrero's marketing-minded son renamed the product "Nutella", and soon exported it across Europe. The exact recipe-its secondary ingredients, then-remain as closely-guarded secret as the original formula for Coca-Cola in the U.S. The first jar of Nutella left the Alban factory to grace Columbia's shores on 20 April 1964-curiously, one month before this writer became engaged to another incomparable sweet, whom he married a year and three months later!

Do yourself a favor: Go to Brookshires, or Wally World, and look up at the top shelf in the peanut butter aisle. But a word of caution: If sits upon the shelf the last, lonely jar-pass it by, ‘cause it knows its best customer and raison d'etre is coming by to claim it!
Bon giorno! Steve H Kehoe
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