Saturday, 31 January 2009

A peculiar compulsion

P. Toledano

I have a ritual when it comes to opening a jar of Nutella.

It goes like this:
I grab hold of the lid really tightly and twist it slowly so that the foil inside creaks and cracks. The slower this is done the more satisfying it is; each crackle a mechanical sigh, an audible release of built up tension. When the foil no longer creaks I can take the lid off and contemplate the next step.

This involves taking a very sharp and pointy knife and, grabbing it close to the tip, stabbing the tightly stretched foil sharply and as close as possible to the glass rim BUT without touching the chocolate beneath.
If the maneuvre is carried out perfectly this involves a single short stab which grazes the glass without hitting the top of the rim. The characteristic pop of the suddenly pierced foil is a further reward for my having carried out each step precisely as prescribed by my compulsion.

The knife is then used to cut the foil following the perimeter of the rim closely, ideally the sharp knife does not rip the foil but cuts through it. As the circular incision is completed, the initial high frequency pitch of the vibrating foil becomes gradually deeper; the sliding scale of frequencies is another recompense for my attention to the ritual. When completely excised the foil must NOT touch the chocolate.

I grant myself a short rest and I behold the smooth perfection.

The jar must at this point be oriented correctly, with the label facing me squarely on.
Now I take a different knife, one for spreading, and trace a vertical line along the circle's diameter through the surface.

I then proceed to scoop out chocolate only from the left hand side until I either reach the bottom of the jar or the whole thing collapses under its own weight. At that point I can take Nutella from anywhere.
If the right hand side has not collapsed by the time I reach the bottom of the jar, I attempt to scoop out Nutella from the base and work my way up.

If someone gets to the jar and scoops out from the intact side the whole thing is ruined! And so is my mood! On those occasions when I manage to keep scooping from one side only until I reached the bottom of the jar, it becomes one of the most satisfying and fulfilling events of the day and I exist in a special state of serenity.

Having eaten half a jar of Nutella probably helps, too.

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