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Silver Threads: Confessions of a chocoholic at Lent

Bettye Anding

Bettye Anding

During our first year of marriage, one night I made a big platter of fudge, using a recipe of my grandmother’s, and my husband and I enjoyed half of it immensely while we watched “Wagon Train” on television.

The next afternoon, by the time he got home from work, the remaining half was gone, and he complained bitterly about it. I pled irresistible craving for chocolate due to a state of advanced pregnancy, and that excuse seemed to pacify him. He didn’t know me well enough at the time to realize I’d never been able to moderate myself in consumption of my grandmother’s delicious fudge.

It’s been years since I’ve made the heavenly concoction; indeed, when I first arrived in New Orleans I satisfied my appetite for dark sweets at a little chocolate shop — the Russell Stover store — then open on an Uptown-river-side corner of Canal Street. A blessed place I visited frequently, whenever my States-Item editor gave me an assignment nearby.

In recent years I’ve depended on my husband’s own sweet tooth to gratify mine. He would never eat half a platter of fudge at one sitting, however he almost always comes home from the grocery store with a bag of those miniature Hersheys with almonds. But as time has passed, and growing even more sedentary and prone to weight gain than I was inclined to be as a young person, I’ve asked him not to tell me where he puts them. I‘ll be safe from temptation.

As if! When I’m on a quest for chocolate I can sniff it out in any place in our house. If my sinuses are acting up and I can’t sniff, I search. The only thing he hasn’t done is put them a light fixture like Ray Milland did with his bottles of booze in “The Lost Weekend.”

Now I’m wondering, does anybody ever give up chocolate for Lent?

Knowing far less about Lenten customs than those whose church has taught about them from childhood, I’ve come to think that it should be painful indeed to give up whatever one decides to during the 40 days beginning today. Chocolate would seem to be a minimal sacrifice to some; not to me.

There are many things I love to eat: Meat — once a mandatory Lenten no-no — isn’t up there at the head of the list. I could survive quite happily without it; on shrimp, crawfish, crabmeat and our lovely oysters for as long as anyone can serve them to me. I like bourbon, Beaujolais and pinot grigio, too, but more than a month without them wouldn’t cause the “suffering” that foregoing chocolate would.

According to an article by Jane Collingwood on the website PsychCentral, “Although there are similarities between eating chocolate and drug use, generally researchers believe that chocolate ‘addiction‘ is not a true addiction. While chocolate does contain potentially mood-altering substances, these are all found in higher concentrations in other less appealing foods such as broccoli. A combination of chocolate’s sensory characteristics — sweetness, texture and aroma — nutrients, and chemicals, together with hormonal and mood swings largely explains chocolate cravings.”

In short, I’m not really a chocoholic, just need to keep a bowl of broccoli around to get through the day. Yuck! I’ll let you know if I decide to.

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at


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