Easter eggs... chocolate shells... ribbons... the Easter bunny...
Easter. I love it. Although I'm not remotely religious it doesn't stop me eagerly anticipating the arrival of the myriad of extravagantly decorated eggs in the shops. The brightly coloured wrappings, the pretty ribbons, the promise of secrets inside the chocolate shell... mmmmmmmmn I love it all.
As a child I didn't really get much out of Easter, usually the Grandparents would give me a little bit of money to buy an egg, but for some reason this always seemed to get absorbed by my mother into the household budget, and eggs were not forthcoming. The argument being that they were a waste of money.
Well, even now as an adult I dearly wish for an Easter egg each year. But my husband cites my desire to drop 20lbs as a good enough reason not to have one.
Mind you, it's not as simple as that now is it. How many extravagant, luxurious, to-die-for eggs have you seen marked wheat or gluten free? How many say "May contain traces of wheat" etc on them? How many times have you picked up an Easter egg only to put it down when one of the main ingredients in the chocolate shell, yes the shell, is wheat?
So, although I'm an adult I get disappointed, but just imagine the disappointment to a child that suffers with a wheat or gluten allergy when they don't get any Easter eggs.
Why can't chocolate manufacturers simply take the time to make their products wheat free, or to label them as such if they are. For goodness sake, wheat shouldn't be in chocolate anyway. Chocolate is chocolate. It shouldn't be adulterated with wheat as a cheap, crappy filler to make the chocolate go further.
I went into a chocolate shop in Banff, Alberta not that long ago, and was clearly told that no product in their shop was wheat free. I enquired why the bear paws, that were simply chocolate with nuts in weren't wheat free, and the manager said that the chocolate they buy in to make their products has wheat in it. So good quality stuff then.
You know what they say about recommendations. If you're happy you tell 1 or 2 people, if you've been treated badly you tell everyone. How many recommendations do you think that shop is going to get from me?
Now I'm going to tell you about an exception, unfortunately their shipping prices make buying their products from outside the UK prohibitive, however in conjunction with our feedback (read) they took this whole quality chocolate issue on board and now have a comprehensive selection of chocolates labelled wheat or gluten free.
The company is Hotel Chocolat. They have chocolate boutiques dotted around the UK, but they also have a website with a fabulous selection of chocolates on it. And with Easter coming they have some wonderful Easter eggs in their wheat & gluten free section.
It breaks my heart that now I live outside the UK there's virtually no chance that I can buy their products, because a) the international shipping costs are higher than the cost of most of the products and b) it would have to arrive in one piece, and as some chocolates air mailed to me in November 2006 only arrived last week, and were hence out of date for eating, it's not really a practical option.
But give their website a look, drool at the sexy chocolate Easter eggs on display, dream about breaking into a crisp, good quality chocolate shell to investigate the hidden pleasures inside, and if you order some, don't tell me how good they are.