There’s no greater gift to give a certain sweetheart than a box of chocolates, however if you really want to impress the love of your life (or anyone for that matter), assembling an assortment of chocolates from different countries is a great way to inject some diversity into what could be the standard Valentine’s Day gift.
Thanks to Supermarkets and the Internet, Foreign Chocolates Are Easy to Buy
Getting chocolates from different countries isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Gourmet shops and even some decent supermarkets carry fare from around the world. Chicago’s Treasure Island is a great place to look for an international variety of chocolates. The store has sections, separated into ethnic sections, so walking through the aisles is like taking a trip through a culinary United Nations.
Arguably, the most famous chocolate, outside of Hershey’s found in the market, will be Swiss chocolate, specifically Lindt chocolates. Swiss chocolate is so popular and prevalent, not only will it be sold in the supermarkets, but it’ll probably be shelved in the general aisle with all the other chocolates (as opposed to the specialized sections).
French, Polish and Belgium chocolate is also relatively east to find in the stores, but a great variety to search for is German chocolate – specifically Kinder Chocolate. A little more difficult to find (though I’ve found some in some supermarkets around Chicago), Kinder Chocolate is very original, and the varieties are especially interesting – most notably their Kinder eggs – a hollow chocolate egg (like for Easter), with a small toy inside. The chocolate egg is a cute variation on the standard chocolate egg, and would be a fun gift for adults and children alike.
Another great place to look for international chocolates is to go the ethnic neighborhoods in your city. Chinatown is a treasure trove of fun, colorful chocolate, often wrapped and marketed by an anime or cartoon company – including an adorable line of cookie koala bears filled with chocolate. Mexican shops are also a great place to find regional chocolates that may not be sold in the local candy shop.
The great thing about buying chocolates like the kind sold in local immigrant-run stores is that not only are you tasting from another culture (as well as supporting local businesses), but the wrapping and packaging of the chocolates is part of the interest – words are written in different languages, and it’s fun to see how chocolate is marketed in other countries.
Try for Something Else Beside the Traditional Heart
A really clever idea to give your chocolates to someone is to eschew the traditional heart box, and opt for filling an inexpensive globe with your international booty. That way, the theme of diversity won’t be lost on the recipient. The best kind of gift is something that not brings pleasure to someone, but teaches him something, as well.