When I was pregnant with my firstborn son many, many years ago, I once craved a chocolate eclair.
Cravings while pregnant can not, by any stretch of the imagination, be compared to non-pregnant cravings. Pregnant cravings are Kodachrome cravings; high-resolution, perfectly lit, color-balanced works of epicurean art, radiating the barest hints of tantalizingly delectable aromas and flavors. Non-pregnant ones, in comparison, are faded sepia, blurry, pixellated, low-sodium and fat-free, tasteless and boring.
I could almost taste chocolate eclair, I wanted it so badly. Almost, but sadly, not quite. Every particle of my entire being was overwhelmed with desire, passionately intent on one single hedonistic thought, focused as only the ADD-blessed can focus. I knew beyond all reason that I MUST find, and consume, a chocolate eclair.
I think Wonko even stopped hiccupping (his best pre-natal talent, which he practiced at every opportunity, which means pretty much endlessly) for a few minutes, bowled over in his dark watery cradle by the intense waves of carb-lust reverberating through his world.
Real life can seldom measure up to the unparalleled perfection of a craving born in the hormone-infected imagination of a pregnant woman. Pregnant cravings are usually not so much satisfied as they are cruelly obliterated by disillusion, disappointment, and hopelessness.
But every once in a while, the universe smiles upon a pregnant woman with a craving, as it did for me that day. I found a bakery with chocolate eclairs. They were nothing special. It was a grocery store bakery with cheap pastries for the masses, not the least bit suitable for gourmet pastry connoisseurs. I didn’t care. I bought one, found the nearest place to sit, and reverently unwrapped it, blissfully breathing in its sensuous chocolatey aroma. I took a bite. It was heavenly, everything I had dreamed it would be. I chewed slowly, revelling in each bite, savoring every delicate molecule as it slid across my palate.
The memory has never faded. That was the ultimate chocolate eclair, the eclair all other eclairs will forever be measured by. I’ve never eaten another, because I know that no pastry ever created from that day forward will be able to compare to the consummate perfection of that one most perfect chocolate eclair.