In Italy, there’s this drink called Bitter (pronounced ‘beet-air’).
And boy, they’re not joking around.
It is very bitter, and used as a digestive.
I’m not sure if it works, but Italians, Sicilians especially, love to serve it after a meal.
And Italians, Sicilians especially, don’t like to be told no when it comes to any part of a meal.
So, essentially, you are offered this wretched drink in a tiny glass bottle, ‘Drink Me’ style.
And you drink it.
You force it down, and hope to the gods that there is some benefit to putting yourself through this, beside the hosts getting their way.
You swallow in gulps, because it can’t go anywhere but down.
You hope to digest it, and some other bits, so that perhaps when it leaves you, you feel more… clean.
It’s an absolutely horrid process that you indulge in for the sake of hope.
That’s how bitter works.
But then, there are the pastries.
Italians, in general, love to serve pastries after a meal.
They come on long, white trays with scalloped edges, wrapped in pink paper and tied with a ribbon.
They are as colourful as set jewels, nestled like canaries into one another.
Flaky crust, and sweet, soft cheeses and fruit are bundled into little one-bite morsels of heaven.
You can eat all of them, but you stop yourself at two…
In all actuality, you can’t help sneak a third.
The pure bliss of it rolls around your tongue, each bite bright bursts of happiness.
You revel in that sweetness for hours. For the rest of your life, really.
That’s how sweet works.
This is bitter, and this is sweet.
You can have both at the same time.
A dark, dark chocolate.
But even sensual, shocking, pure cacao on the tip of the tongue, the back of the throat, the pit of the stomach… will never mimic the bittersweet our hearts can taste.