I am loathe to add to the mass medical-chocolate hysteria because, even though I have been telling people all my life that chocolate is good for you, it somehow annoys me to see people carrying around “Beauty Bars” of mediocre-quality dark chocolate and acting all self-righteous about it.
BUT I feel that if you have read or are about to read Blame It on Paris, you deserve to know that chocolate cures migraines. Or cluster headaches, as my mom informs me mine are really called. [If you have not read Blame It on Paris, you do NOT deserve to know it, so kindly stop reading here.]
It DOES cure them. I was beset by these vomitous headaches the first two days of the Thanksgiving holidays. I could eat almost NOTHING at Thanksgiving dinner. Even after a night of sleep and aspirin, Friday morning I still had one, it had just switched from one side of my head to the other. I took two Advil and, in the most unusual bit of serendipity, Mia actually decided that she was, in fact, sleepy, and she fell asleep on me while I was in a comfortable spot and could kind of doze with her. This combination helped. But still, when we woke up, the nauseating headache was still there. The edge was off, but I could tell it was waiting to re-attack. So I went into the kitchen for a glass of water and passed the HALF-FOOT stack of chocolate bars my father bought in preparation for my arrival.
He always buys ten or twelve of any of the European brands of dark chocolate he can find in preparation for my arrival. And he always keeps them in his study for safekeeping until I get there, EVEN THOUGH my mother does not eat chocolate and so it’s very odd he should have to keep chocolate in his study RIGHT next to his mousepad to save it from her.
Anyway, as I was walking by this enormous stack of dark chocolate, I had a sudden instinct. I said to myself, “I need to eat some dark chocolate.”
So I sat down with a bar of Lindt Intense Orange. My mother, who knows everything unless it involves any kind of post-1950 technology, had been trying to get me to take magnesium for my headache and looked intrigued. “You know, chocolate is a very rich natural source of magnesium.”
“Really,” I said. “And you know what’s interesting? I just noticed that Lindt says its serving size is nearly half a bar. And here all this time I thought a serving size was one square. Maybe I should eat a whole serving.”
In the end I ate two whole servings, or almost the whole bar, because I could actually feel it happening: the headache fading with every bite I ate. It was a miracle.
The next day, the headache came back while I was helping David and Annette grout slate for the porch on their gorgeous house, and I was very concerned as I didn’t want to abandon them mid-task. Fortunately, I happened to know that my brother Stefan had hidden a whole bag of dark chocolate M & Ms in his truck and that this bag had serendipitously found its way into the bottom of Mia’s diaper bag for safekeeping, safekeeping perhaps somewhat similar to my father’s study safekeeping. M&M’s “dark” chocolate isn’t really all that dark, so I ate almost the whole bag, except for the handful I allowed Stefan to have, an act for which he was properly grateful.
And again: magic. I have found the miracle cure. Dark chocolate, combined with a couple of Advil, cures these cursed headaches that can go on for days otherwise. I know some people are sarcastically saying that it’s probably the Advil, but I promise you, Advil alone will not do it. If you don’t believe me, fine. But I am sharing this information with the less cynical among you because if you have these headaches, it could save your holidays. It all goes to show what I have always said: NEVER travel without a bar of dark chocolate in your purse.