For many men, February 14th is the most dreaded day of the year. It’s a day in which our boundless capacity for bad taste comes to the fore. Though well-intentioned, when it comes to women and romance, we’re clueless. You might not know it, but shopping for women is the biggest cause of anxiety among American men. There’s nothing like the crushingly disappointed look on your lover’s face as she unwraps the latest bad gift to quell the ardor in a man’s heart.
Worse, our anguish has been made public thanks to the annual global dissemination of an e-mail entitled “ten worse Valentine’s Day gifts.” Most men would rather find themselves on the annual “Darwin Awards” e-mail similarly circulated worldwide than to recognize their contribution to the infamous worse Valentine’s Day gifts e-mail. The truth is, many of us would have a better chance of completing a Rubik’s Cube in record time than picking out the perfect Valentine’s Day gift. It’s no wonder you hear so many men whining about the “obligatory” nature of gift-giving during this “commercial” holiday.
Let’s be honest. The XY chromosome pairing has better equipped us for shooting at things and watching sports than it has for buying gifts. Yeah, blame our chromosomes for the cavalcade of tacky, terrible and inappropriate Valentine’s Day gifts given by men throughout the world. Still we persevere with our rampant, well-intentioned consumerism which accounts for most of the $100 million spent in Valentine’s Day gifts. The smart ones among us will forgo using our limited imaginations and don’t endeavor to buy something unique and creative.
Instead, we buy acres of roses and enough bling to cover an NBA star for a year. We kill entire forests so that mushy cards can be printed that express the sentiment we usually reserve for our favorite quarterback. We buy enough stuffed animals to fill entire zoos and mostly, we buy chocolate. According to the National Retail Federation, some 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate are purchased each year for Valentine’s Day. We must do that right because the day following Valentine’s Day has been declared National Cheap Chocolate Day for the tons of chocolate left on shelves.
Some men, being men, still manage to screw this up and will give our sweeties inappropriate chocolate–either cheap, marginally edible chocolate or worse, anatomically correct (except for the exaggerated proportions) chocolate depicting body parts not meant to be associated with chocolate. There’s no excuse for buying bad chocolate if you live in Albuquerque. Yes, Albuquerque. As hard as it might be to believe, you can actually find very good chocolate in Albuquerque and you don’t have to import it from Europe. One of my favorite places for chocolate in New Mexico is Theobroma Chocolatier. Its chocolate is more than good enough to save Valentine’s Day for even the most Ralph Kramden-like troglodytes among us.
The name Theobroma is derived from two Greek words, “theo” and “broma” which translate to the “food of the gods.” In the polytheistic culture of the ancient Mayans, chocolate was considered a luxury reserved exclusively for gods and the ruler class. The Mayans became the world’s first chocolate aficionados, revering chocolate for its mood-enhancing, restorative properties. It became an integral part of the Mayan society. Today, chocolate is no longer considered exclusive to a privileged class and the celebrity-worshiping modern world no longer holds the “god of chocolate” in reverence. No longer are temples built in his honor or sacrifices of chocolate made in his name.
Instead “temples” such as Theobroma make excellent chocolate available to everybody. Located near the foothills of the Sandias, it’s not exactly within convenient driving range for most chocolate worshippers in Albuquerque, but it’s worth the drive from anywhere in the city. Men will hopefully not have to stop to ask for directions (we actually do that when women aren’t around) to find it. Theobroma is the brainchild of Chuck and Heidi Weck, two Kansas City transplants who launched their first Duke City chocolate emporium in 1996. In making and selling the food of the gods, the Wecks are committed to perpetuating and nurturing the chocolate traditions begun by the Maya.
Only the Swiss (22.4 pounds per person per year) consume more than the 11.7 pounds of chocolate each American will consume each year. During my visits to Theobroma, it’s been tempting not to consume an entire year’s average in one day. Theobroma makes me feel like Charlie, the kid in the Willy Wonka movie who found the last golden ticket. That’s because Theobroma has chocolate of every imaginable type and shape (more than one hundred different molded chocolates) and it’s all delicious and affordable.
Theobroma has got assortments of chocolate truffles in every flavor: hazelnut, butter pecan champagne, coffee, amaretto, mint, cappuccino, rum, raspberry, Irish cream, Tiramisu and orange. It’s got milk chocolate and dark chocolate and everything in between. It’s even got chocolate covered Oreos (the best I’ve ever had) and ChacoPop, popcorn smothered in milk chocolate (or caramel, if you prefer). It’s got chocolate covered caramel kissed with sea salt, a delicious treat that will make macho men swoon. It’s got piñon covered chocolate bark that you’d kill for.
There’s a treasure trove of chocolate sure to please the love of your life. The only danger is that you might not be able to resist the temptation to “sample” some of it and if you do, none of it will make it home.
12611 Montgomery, N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
LATEST VISIT: 12 February 2012
# OF VISITS: 3
BEST BET: Chocolate Truffles, Chocolate Covered Oreos, ChacoPop popcorn, Chocolate Covered Caramels with Sea Salt