Years ago I came home from Belgium with a jar of Nutella.
Spreadable chocolate. What’s not to love?
Well, if you’re allergic to nuts, that’s a problem, as hazelnuts are an ingredient blended into the creamy chocolate. But if you like hazelnuts, and hazelnuts agree with you, and you love chocolate and want to justify eating it for every meal, then you must try Nutella.
Fifteen years ago, when we first started shoving jars of Nutella into our suitcases amongst our socks and T-shirts to bring them home from our trips overseas, no one here had heard of the stuff. Times are changing, however, and word is spreading: a few years ago, Nutella started showing up in the specialty section of one of our fancier supermarkets.
Eventually, it found a spot on the top shelf of the peanut butter and jelly section of a few supermarkets in town. Now it’s a regular, next to squeezable plastic bear-shaped honey jars and the Goober spread—you know that combination jar of peanut butter and grape jelly swirled together? Nutella is right there, wedged between them, on the shelf of “non-peanut-butter-and-jelly-stuff-people-spread-on-bread.”
It appears that Americans have finally caught on: like peanut butter, jelly, apple butter, and Goober,
Nutella is a spread. For bread.
But I can understand why the grocery store manager wasn’t entirely sure where to place the jars, because Nutella is also delicious as a dip for bananas or apples or any fruit that would be good in a fondue.
Or plain cookies or graham crackers.It’s terrific inside crepes.
Or when you just need something to carry the Nutella to your mouth, I suppose you could just use a cracker.
The Boy sometimes uses a spoon to shovel it in. When no one’s looking, he dips in his finger (we can tell from the indentation—and the slivers of chocolate stuck under his fingernail).
But Nutella is still a little overpriced for me to pick it up every single time we run out. Most places, it runs about $3.99, and that’s a little steep for a small jar.
Choice #1 is to use it more conservatively (and hide it from The Boy and his finger).
Choice #2 is to shout “Carpe diem!” and dig in, spreading to our hearts’ and stomachs’ content. When it’s gone, it’s gone; and we wait until we find it on sale. This is what I usually do.
Choice #3 is to hint to family members that Nutella is a favorite. I must have done this without meaning to, and here’s one story to illustrate.
One day for my middle daughter’s birthday, we met my mom and dad at a restaurant for brunch. After our yummy pancakes, Mom gave the birthday girl her gifts and then passed out some bags to the non-birthday girls, including me. Inside a plastic bag: Nutella. Two jars of Nutella!
Oh, thankyouthankyouthankyou, Mom. I shoved them back in the bag and whisked them off to the car. We were in a rush to get to the house of my daughter’s new school friend. Her mom had invited us over for lunch. I told her I’d bring apples and caramel dip. We said our good-byes to my parents in the drizzly rain and raced to the grocery store. I grabbed a bag and filled it with Gala apples and snatched up a tub of caramel dip. On the way to my daughter’s classmate’s house, I said, “I think I bought too many Galas to take in. Can you separate those into two bags—one to take in, and one that we’ll keep for home?”
“Sure,” one of the daughters replied.
“Stick the caramel dip in the one we’re taking inside,” I said.
“Okay, no problem,” she answered. Then she suggested, “Why don’t we take in a jar of Nutella to share? It’s great with apples.”
I gasped. “What? That’s our Nutella!” I replied in a panic. “We bought the caramel dip to share. The Nutella’s for us.”
We drove a short distance in silence, listening to the windshield wipers swipe, swipe, swipe. Finally, the eldest spoke up. “Isn’t that a little selfish? I mean, don’t you think we should share?”
The other one added, “We have two jars.”
“One for us, and one to share,” the third proposed.
I hate it when they’re right. “Yes, yes. You’re right. We should share.”
“Maybe they’ve never tasted Nutella before. Maybe we’ll introduce them to something new that they’ll love.”
“All right already. You’re right. We need to share the Nutella. I just hope they don’t eat the whole jar.”
Feeling morally superior—and rightly so—the eldest added, “It’s the right thing to do. Even if they eat it all.”
I sighed. She had me. “I know you’re right,” I said. But I wanted to be honest. I mean, they need to know that it’s hard for adults to do the right thing, too, don’t they? So I admitted, “It’s just that I want all the Nutella.” She grinned and placed a hand on my shoulder. “It’ll be fine, Mom. You’re doing the right thing.”
“I’ll carry it in,” offered the other. So we took in the jar of Nutella and the caramel dip and I explained to our hosts what Nutella was. They were curious but a little apprehensive (how can you be apprehensive about spreadable chocolate?). I urged them to sample it. When my girls heard me, they both looked up with wide eyes and encouraging smiles.
“Oh, that’s nice,” said the mom. “Kids you should try this chocolate dip that Mrs. Kroeker brought.” The kids hesitated. “It’s chocolate! Try it!”Even though my girls were piling it on, the other kids all took the tiniest little smidgen onto their apple slices, as if they were being asked to sample spinach dip or an eggplant spread. They quickly return to the familiar caramel dip.
I was shocked.
When we packed up to leave, I can’t remember if I offered to leave the jar or not—I hope I did, because that would have been the right thing to do. But I did somehow end up with it back in my stuff and on its way to my cupboard…and onto my slices of French bread.
My daughter was right, though. When you’re given two jars of Nutella, you should be willing to share. Or, what was it Jesus said? If someone wants your jar of Nutella, let him have it and the other jar you hid under your tunic, as well? Something like that.
I am, however, certain that He said, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
Even if it’s Nutella.
Doggone it. Following Jesus can be such a sacrifice sometimes.
You really ought to try Nutella sometime. Top shelf. Next to the Goober.
Or, if you come over, I’ll share. I promise.
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