The fruit of the carob tree is being touted as a replacement for chocolate. ‘Carob is a wonderful substitute for chocolate. It tastes great with a chocolate-like flavor but without the health risks, additives, or contamination that comes with chocolate.’ So I went and found a carob tree – not just any old tree but one that is reputed to be over 1000 years old. And I found some of the ripe and ready brown fruit. And I tried it. And yes, it has a faint taste of chocolate but it is terribly, terribly, terribly sweet. Despite the associated health benefits, and no matter how much it is dressed up and labelled as ‘good for me’, it will never, ever replace chocolate.
I used to work in the shadow of Cadbury’s chocolate factory in Coolock and on those rare occasions when Ireland had a sunny summer, the smell of the chocolate was a tad overwhelming. But that was as rare as a Irish suntan. When I was in the States, and even now that I’m spending a lot of time in Budapest, the one thing guaranteed to raise my spirits and endear you to me for life, was/is a bar of Cadbury’s plain chocoate. Forget Lindt or the other fancy chocolatiers, a plain bar of Cadbury’s, preferably straight from the fridge, is one of the simplest pleasures in my life.
In my search for reasons why carob is supposedly so much healthier than chocolate, I found this interesting assertion: The seeds inside the pods were also traditionally used to weigh diamonds, which is where we get the word carat from. Who’d have known, eh? My life is now a little more complete. That said, the carob tree I saw in Xemxija in Malta is fairly amazing. The translation of the Maltese verse with its new word – propably – is inspiring. To my mind, anything that can stand in one place for over 1000 years deserves a little credit – even if the fruit of its boughs is nicer to look at than to eat.