I never thought I would tangle with a chocolate dessert I couldn’t finish. I “split” dessert at restaurants to be polite but secretly hope the other person only takes one or two bites. In Vienna, I ate my piece of Sacher Torte and half of Jessie’s and probably could have finished another if I believed there was any chance of the waiter not making a “fat American” joke at the order. I never thought I’d come across anything cake, ice cream, chocolate, or any combination of the three, that could take me down.
Then I encountered the Chocolate Bag Sundae for Two. And was subsequently humiliated. Not just me. I was joined in defeat by my best friends Jessie and Katie (you all know Jessie by now, Katie is my college roommate, the story “Kitty” features her family, in case you’re keeping track of my friends and family like a deranged stalker).
The name of the dessert says “for two.” Two! Surely the three of us, intrepid lovers of chocolate one and all, could annihilate this dessert, put it in its proper place, i.e. our bellies. Despite eating an enormous meal, we were undaunted. Looking back on it, I’m a bit ashamed of our hubris. Our egos, our undefeated record against other chocolate desserts, made us cocky.
We should have known we were destined for failure when Katie’s husband, a teacher who waits tables over the summer for extra scratch who also happened to be our waiter that evening, boldly volunteered to pay for our dinner if we managed to eat the entire thing. Was he mad? Perhaps new? Didn’t he know who he was dealing with?
The dessert sounds innocent enough. “Vanilla gelato, chocolate and caramel sauce, brownies, banana, whipped cream…”
We should have paid more attention to the ellipses. Because it was that little extra, that dot-dot-dot, that proved to be our ruin.
For you see, the Chocolate Bag Sundae for Two does not come in a bag, as the name deviously implies. It comes in a box. Made of chocolate. We could have eaten the brownies and gelato and sauces and banana and whipped cream, but that damned, infernal box! It wasn’t just a “thin veneer of a milk chocolate” box. It was as solid as drywall, a veritable fortress of dark, semisweet chocolate. It was impenetrable. It was delicious and perceptibly evil. We made it through everything else, including two goddamn spoons made of chocolate, but hard as we tried, we couldn’t conquer that box. It was an unmitigated disaster.
After that, I wasn’t hungry again for twenty-two hours. Something happened to me. Something I scarcely thought possible. I reached my chocolate threshold. I think I consumed enough chocolate that I ran a real risk of developing lead poisoning. I felt like crap the next day. I don’t know if that was from the overwhelming tonnage of chocolate that was consumed or just the complete and utter defeat, though I’m a writer, and being so used to disappointment and rejection, my guess is the food was the problem.
If you’re ever on the Cape, I would highly recommend visiting the Ocean House Restaurant in Dennis Port. From the hearts of romaine salad to the mashed potatoes with giant chunks of lobster to the steak and fish and pasta, the food is excellent. And if you do venture that way, challenge yourself to the Chocolate Bag Sundae. I wish you better luck than my friends and I had. In fact, maybe just don’t eat all day and start with the dessert. It very well may be your only hope.