THE OLYMPICS AND CHOCOLATE: Us foodie types relate everything in life to what we do. While watching the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics I kept thinking of the athletes as niche specific masters of each sport, sorta like us foodies... we are niche specific masters in our chosen food expertise. A fun game I like to play with elementary students when they visit is to ask the question: "If you are a chocolate, what would you be?" It is a great question to ask because it helps me learn what each individual student values insofar as flavors and what they think of themselves as far as their connection to food and in some ways what they think intrinsically about themselves. It is sorta like the idea... You are what you eat, but way more fun and insightful.
The Olympian Dalilah Muhammad is an incredible athlete that inspires millions with her honest, kind and beautiful ways which speak volumes of what and who she is. While watching her win the Gold I thought of the same question I ask young students: "If you are a chocolate, what would you be?" I'd love to hear what Dalilah would say. Below is an essay on what I was thinking while watching her take the Olympic Gold... yes ridiculous I know... but heck I'm a foodie like you and thinking and relating everything to food, just like you, that's why you're reading this! :)
The 2016 Summer Olympics recently ended, and it was another show of fabulous athleticism and grace, and it certainly made millions of us appreciate the athletes and their physiques even more. You just can't sit there for two weeks and look at the taut, muscular, superhero physiques of male and female athletes swimming, running, jumping, wrestling, twisting themselves into cartoonish shapes on a gymnastics mat or doing a dozen other maneuvers that would give most of us a severe attack of back spasms or even a cardiac event, without getting a little inspired, right?
Well, maybe. You could also look at the Olympics as a celebration of beauty, art, and grace, something that is just great fun to watch. These beautiful bodies are worth watching simply to appreciate their gorgeousness, even if they don't inspire us to do anything more physical than twisting off the cap of a bottle of sparkling water.
You can pick any one of a hundred athletes who were fun to watch in the last Olympics, but for my money one of the absolute best is Dalilah Muhammad, the American gold medal winner in the women's 400 meter hurdles. She glides along the track almost effortlessly, clearing each hurdle with a graceful lift of her leg and eating up the space till the next hurdle with just a few strides of her long limbs. Muhammad is a miracle of motion, beauty in a track uniform, and she is a joy to watch.
That kind of beauty inspires the watcher to think of many things, including chocolate.
Chocolate, you say? Why compare an elite athlete to chocolate?
Well, why not? Dalilah Muhammad is like fine chocolate, because she is a class act, for one thing. She's not your typical convenience store chocolate, sitting on a shelf for weeks or months, melting in the heat or getting old in its wrapper. No, Dalilah Muhammad is unique, like a gourmet delicacy, perhaps a concoction made of 100 percent pure cacao straight from the Amazon rain forest, blended into a gourmet chocolate butter cream truffle. Or you could compare her to champagne chocolate truffles, a hand rolled truffle that is dusted in dark red cocoa powder, and flavored with champagne.
There are many metaphors you could use for this striking athlete, who is the first American woman in history to win gold in the 400 meter hurdles. But chocolate is a good one, because Dalilah Muhammad is sweet not flashy, graceful not overbearing, humble not brassily self-promoting like so many other athletes in Rio who preened and posed every time they won a medal. Dalilah Muhammad is like a fine chocolate with many flavors that linger long on the tongue and in the mind.
You get the feeling that other gold medal winners from this year’s Olympics will be like mass produced candy bars, on display everywhere you look, loudly proclaiming their superiority, overwhelming you with their aggressive sugariness. Dalilah Muhammad, on the other hand, is like a gift-wrapped chocolate waiting in the box, a delicacy that has a taste that gets better with experience.
Okay, maybe I’ve gone a bit far here. Maybe it’s too much to compare Dalilah Muhammad to a chocolate. Maybe she should be compared to a sleek greyhound or a well-oiled machine, every part working in harmony to produce a champion’s performance.
But those would be the kind of metaphors that remind us of extreme physical exertion, which is not as pleasant as thinking about chocolate.
Because, after all, it’s fun to watch all those Olympic athletes, but it’s as much fun to eat a well-made gourmet chocolate truffle.