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I have to admit that for a while after writing Chocolat I felt that I would never be able to eat chocolate again. After months of chocolate festivals, chocolate premieres, chocolate factories, chocolate-themed parties and openings and dinners, after being on the set of the film, where even the wood shavings smelt of chocolate, I think even the most devoted chocolate addict might have begun to feel rather sated. I was disgusted, chocced-out, finished.

The Italians saved me; as I arrived at yet another chocolate event, this time in the exquisite coffee-shop and chocolaterie of Cova, in Milan, I was greeted by the owner, who, taking one look at my pale, exhausted face, smiled and said: ‘Wait here. I have something special for you to try.’ As he vanished into a back room, I tried to school my features (for the thousandth time) into an expression of blissful surprise: Chocolate! My favourite!

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