David Soto Writes

I think I figured out what I want to be when I grow up.

Category: Los Chocolates de Esperanza Diamanté (page 2 of 2)

Guanajuato Part II (Chapter 3)

For the next year, Esperanza continued her experiments. She hoped to find the right blood-to-chocolate ratio, who was best suited for the chocolates, and how many they should consume.

The women of Guanajuato never once feared or were intimidated by Esperanza’s beauty. Compared to Barra, Guanajuato was a much larger, more affluent city. If the women weren’t beautiful themselves, their fine clothing, houses, and jewelry made them feel good enough about themselves not to have to feel concerned about Esperanza. In fact, her peasant appearance and humility made the women feel comfortable around her. So much so that they came to her to seek counsel.

Every afternoon after siesta, Esperanza walked downtown to her favorite café to have coffee and read. From day one she was immediately engaged in conversation with men and women alike. Eventually, the women started to confide in her their deepest desires and secrets. When it came time to experiment with her chocolates, Esperanza knew that this group of women would be perfect.

Esperanza never did anything as blunt as saying, “Here these chocolates will help.” Instead, she listened to their problems, and when they finished, she would say, “I’m sure everything will work out the way God intends it.” She would then hand over two chocolates wrapped in plastic, tied together with a little piece of red ribbon. A few days later, when she met with the same woman, she would listen again to see if her problems did work out, and then would casually ask how were her chocolates.

When Señora Mendez reported that her husband had finally started making love to her again, Esperanza would comment something like, “Excellent” or “Congratulations” or even “Thank God!” Then she would ask, “How were the chocolates?” or “What did you think of the chocolates?”  To which Señora Mendez would say something like, “Oh, me and my husband both loved them.”

When the young Señora Escobar relayed that she finally had the first orgasm of her life, Esperanza replied, “Congratulations! Oh, and what did you think of my chocolates?” And the young Señora Escobar said that the first one had been so good that she couldn’t help but eat the second one right away.

When a woman complained about another member of her family, like a niece or goddaughter, Esperanza gave the Señora some chocolates and said, “Here, give these to your niece” or “your goddaughter.” When Señora Martinez reported that her only daughter was finally engaged, Esperanza responded,  “Excellent!” and then asked how her daughter liked the chocolates. To which Señora Martinez responded, “She didn’t even eat them. She gifted them both to her boyfriend—excuse me—her fiancé.”

Esperanza continued having these meetings for a year. She listened to each woman without interruption. Her only response to them was, “I’m sure everything will work out the way God intends it,” and to hand them her chocolates. Eventually, she had enough information to figure out the right combination of chocolates and amount of blood required.

The amount of her blood needed in one batch of chocolates was only six drops. This was easy to figure out as she reduced the amount of blood in each batch until reports came back that they did not affect the situation at hand.

To get a man to fall passionately in love with you, give him two chocolates.

To re-spark the flame between two lovers, one chocolate each.

And to help a woman either become pregnant or reach a hard-to-come-by orgasm, it was two chocolates for her. Coming to know this last one didn’t come without consequences.

After learning that Señora Dorado had not climaxed in over a decade, Esperanza told her, “I’m sure everything will work out the way God intends it,” and sent her on her way with two chocolates. When Señora Dorado got home, she had forgotten about the chocolates in her handbag. When her sixteen-year-old piano phenom daughter, Gabi, asked for money to go to the movies that night with her boyfriend, Señora Dorado told her to retrieve the money from her purse.

“Mamá!” Gabi shouted, not having any idea where in the house her mother was, but yelling loud enough that it didn’t matter.

“Yeah?” the Señora responded but not loud enough for Gabi to hear her. The Señora was not as boisterous.

“Mamá!” Gabi shouted again, not having heard her mother’s response. “Can I have these chocolates?”

This reminded the Señora that she had the chili-laced treats in her bag. “No, I want to try them.” Of course, Gabi could not hear her mother’s response.

“Mamaaaaa!”

By this time, an annoyed Señor Dorado couldn’t take it anymore and shouted at his daughter, “Take those damn chocolates and get the hell out of here!” To which Gabi happily did, along with some of her mother’s pesos.

On her walk to her boyfriend’s house, Gabi ate both of the chocolates. The two lovers never did go to the movies. Gabi came home having had the best (and also first) orgasm of her life—and having conceived Señor and Señora Dorado’s first grandchild.

Guanajuato (Chapter 2)

It had been seven years since Esperanza felt the touch of a man. Within an hour of the last time she’d made love, she was on a bus with her two leather bags, on her way from the capital city of Guanajuato to the small village of Barra de Navidad.

In Guanajuato, she’d lived and worked as an apprentice to the best and most adored baker in the city, Doña Eva. Doña Eva was not only a master baker but also a gourmet chef and had studied her trade in France. It was Doña Eva who had written the letter of introduction to Doña Luz when Esperanza decided it was time to leave Guanajuato.

Doña Eva and her apprentice made all the pastries in the bakery, which was attached to the house, during the early hours of the morning. Esperanza hated that her workday began at two a.m. and swore that if she ever had a place of her own, it would open at a reasonable hour.

By seven in the morning, Eva’s husband, Don José Gutierrez, headed downtown to the Panadería Gutierrez with a van full of fresh pastries. This “bakery” only featured and sold the goods. No actual baking took place in there. Don José thoughtfully displayed the most attractive of fresh delicacies on shelves in front of the huge picture window. This and the aroma of the sweet bread were all the marketing the Gutierrezes needed to sell out every day.

No one could walk by without being seduced by the smell or beautiful display of conchas, niño envuelto, pan fino, pata de mula, orejas, quequitos, pan picón, bisquetes, or even the savory bolillos used for tortas. All the Mexican favorites were there, but what really made the Panadería Gutierrez stand out were the products of Doña Eva’s French training. Her bakery was the only one in town that had puff pastries and croissants for sale. The most popular of all, of course, was the chocolate-filled croissants made by none other than Esperanza.

Locals and tourists alike flowed into the bakery at a steady pace every day until the shop sold out. Then one day, local women started lining up buying all the chocolate croissants they could afford, ignoring the rest of the delights on display. This had not always been the case, but Esperanza figured out the reason for her croissants’s popularity only days after a slip of her butcher knife.

Though no one baked on Sundays, Esperanza still put in a full day’s work in the bakery. The only condition Esperanza insisted on when she and Doña Eva discussed the terms of her apprenticeship was that, instead of using store-bought chocolate in the chocolate croissants, Esperanza be allowed to make the chocolate herself. When Doña Eva agreed, Esperanza slung one of her two leather bags onto the table. “Good,” she said. “I’ll get started right away.” She overturned the bag, dumping the entire contents onto the table: cocoa bean pods.

For the two years prior to her coming to Guanajuato, Esperanza had been under the tutelage of one Don Miguel Garcia, a chocolatier in Oaxaca. It was Don Miguel who had written the letter of introduction to Doña Eva when circumstances warranted that Esperanza vacate Oaxaca.

How to make  cocoa powder:

Step one: Remove beans from pods.

Step two: Place beans in a bucket lined with banana leaves to ferment for three days.

Step three: Remove beans from the bucket and spread them out to dry for a few days.

Step four: Roast beans in the oven until shells crack open, then remove and let cool.

Step five: Separate nibs from their shell, finely chop, then grind them into a powder.

One Sunday, on step five of Esperanza’s cocoa powder making process, she got distracted and nicked her finger with the butcher knife. The entire process took exactly one week. So, when Esperanza cut herself and bled all over the chopped cocoa nibs, she was faced with a decision. Dry up as much blood as she could with a towel, or throw the entire batch out and lose a week’s worth of work. Rinsing the nibs was out of the question, as much of them turned to powder in the chopping process. She did the best she could, but there was no doubt in her mind that there was some residue of her blood in that batch of cocoa powder.

That Sunday’s blood-laced batch of cocoa powder made enough chocolate to fill six day’s worth of croissants. By Tuesday of that week, rumors started to spread among a select few of the bakery’s patrons. By the following week, after successfully making chocolate without cutting herself, the rumors stopped, and the sales of croissants resumed their normal pace. But the whole event made Esperanza curious, and she decided to conduct a little experiment.

This time, instead of cutting herself, Esperanza pricked her finger with a sewing needle and squeezed out several drops of blood into her batch of chocolate. By Tuesday of that week, she started getting the feedback she was looking for. It was her blood.

After the confirmation, Esperanza decided to omit this secret ingredient from her chocolate and, in due time, the spike in sales and buzz about the croissants subsided. But the experimenting was far from done. She requested that Don José add more bean pods to the weekly shopping list. In addition to the chocolate for the croissants, she started making individual candies. She used an icing tube for decorating cakes to squeeze out spiral-shaped drops of chocolate delight.

Her first testers were Doña Eva and her husband. “Here. I want you to be the first to try my chocolates,” Esperanza said to Doña Eva.

“Ay, no,” the Doña replied. “After years of being a baker, I have no desire for sweets.”

“I know,” responded Esperanza as she handed over a chocolate wrapped in a piece of wax paper. “That’s why I put chili in these.”

The Doña reluctantly took the chocolate and put it in her mouth. Although she did tilt her head and raised her eyebrows in approval, Esperanza could tell that the candy was still too sweet for Doña Eva.

“Señor?” Esperanza said, holding out another chocolate. Unlike his wife, Don José still had an affinity for sweets, though one could never tell from the absence of any belly fat around his waist. It was ironic that, of the two, his wife was the hefty one.

“Of course,” the Don said and popped the chocolate into his mouth. The smile on his face matched his approval. “These are great. Are there more?” the Don asked.

“Sorry, Señor. Only one per customer today.”

One would think that the chocolates had instilled an immediate effect on Don José, the way he talked so fast and so loud, but that was just his normal voice. “Are we going to sell these?” He seemed to shout the question.

“No, Señor. These are just a little result of some experimenting I am doing. You can subtract the cost of these chocolates from my pay.” With that, Esperanza walked out of the room and waited patiently for the results of her little experiment.

It wasn’t until late that night that Esperanza got the feedback she was waiting for. The sound of Doña Eva and her husband in the throes of passion traveled down the hall, over the stairs, through the kitchen, across the bakery, and under the door of Esperanza’s bedroom to wake her out of a sound sleep. Only God himself knew the last time the elderly couple had made love, and never had it been so passionate.

The Introduction of Esperanza Diamanté (Chapter 1)

You wouldn’t think it now, but the women who gathered in front of Esperanza Diamanté’s chocolate shop used to hate her. Not anymore though, now they admire her almost to the point of worship. They bless the day she set foot in their little village. Not just today’s group of women, but all of the women who bought her chocolates. They feel sorry for her too, these ladies. For since the day she’d arrived in Barra, seven years ago, Esperanza Diamanté had yet to take a lover.

It was three minutes till two on Saturday afternoon. The women were waiting for Esperanza to open her shop, as they always did. The store’s massive floor-to-ceiling doors opened at two pm on the nose every day. By two-thirty, the goods were sold out. None of the women waiting were first-time customers. Many had been buying Esperanza’s chocolates from the beginning.

They’d had no reason to hate her when she first arrived. No reason other than what they made up in their heads. She came to town on a Monday. The flood of people that had poured in for the holy week of Semana Santa was receding. The buses arrived nearly empty but left full. For the rest of the year, until the next Semana Santa, the small fishing village of Barra de Navidad would be a ghost town.

As soon as Esperanza stepped off the bus, rumors started spreading. It was her beauty that disturbed the women of the village. A woman this beautiful could have any man she wanted. Of course, each of the women in Barra thought for sure theirs was the man she wanted.

In the short time it took for Esperanza to walk from the bus station to Doña Luz’s old bakery, the whole town became aware of the strange, beautiful, husband-stealing woman who had just arrived. She was so stunning that sections of the village seemed to freeze in time as she walked by. Even after she passed, it took several seconds for people to thaw out and resume their normal activities.

She carried two old leather bags, which contained everything she owned. Her long, black hair draped over her bare shoulders. Her white cotton blouse had elastic at the top and bottom. The top of her blouse was pulled down, exposing her shoulders, and the bottom fit snugly just under her ample bosoms—which bounced with every step she took. The cotton top was so sheer that if she ever got caught in the rain, there would be no mystery as to what she was hiding underneath.

From the bottom of her blouse to the top of her skirt’s waistband was nothing but exposed brown skin. If one got close enough, one could see a light trail of hair, bleached by the sun, that led from her belly button to deep, down into her panties, had she been wearing any. Her skirt was made of the same simple cotton as her blouse, but dyed turquoise. It flowed from her waist all the way down to her feet. She had the exact top and skirt in her luggage, except her second skirt was red. These two skirts and two blouses, a black shawl, and the bathing suit she’d bought the day before were the only clothes she had in her possession, the only clothes she owned.

On her feet were finely handmade leather thong sandals that had pieces of turquoise with red specks on the strap that went from her ankle to between her toes. The ankle strap had little silver charms that hung down and made a little jingle as she walked. It was as if the sandals were meant to draw the attention away from her figure or her piercing green eyes, but it was useless. Even her feet were arousing. They were flawless, except that her second toe was longer than her big toe. But even this flaw was appealing. As anyone knows, this is a sign of a passionate lover.

This was all in the past now. The women of the village not only loved and respected her, but they trusted her. Most of all, they revered her because of her chocolates. Because of the pleasure they brought. Because of what her chocolates had done to improve their lives and all of the village. They felt in her debt and wanted nothing but the best for her.

It was two p.m. when the ladies heard the metal bolt on the other side of the giant doors unlatch. Both doors simultaneously swung open. There she was, the beautiful Esperanza, with her green eyes, black hair, white cotton blouse, red skirt, and fancy sandals. “Come in, ladies. There are plenty of chocolates for all of you.”

 

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