Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Chocolate Widow

In Sunday's entry about beginning to see some patterns in my transcription of records from St. Augustine, 1813 through 1815, I mentioned a phrase that had me puzzled -- and amused. It is "la viuda de chocolate" -- the chocolate widow. Was this a reference to skin color? Was it a "modismo," what we call an idiom or colloquial expression for something? Or is it just what it purports to be?

I asked my professor for his opinion, and his response was that it looks like it means what it appears it might mean: the widow of the man who ran the chocolate shop. I find that fascinating for two reasons:

1. That they even had a chocolate shop in St. Augustine in 1813-1815 is interesting to me. It was not a very large nor an extremely prosperous settlement. But they had their luxury goods, by golly!

2. That the product in this instance was mentioned at all. It is the only mention of the product of a shop that I have found in transcribing the three years of records. All the other entries are by the merchant's name, with no mention at all of the products sold in any of their stores. But I can think of one way this might have gone:

Maybe the individual writing these entries was not the one who regularly did it at this particular time. Perhaps he was the new guy, just taking over the recording of his ward's store taxes. He doesn't know everyone very well, maybe he just arrived in St. Augustine, because I had not seen his name much before this. He has the list in his head . . . "Don So-and-So, Don Such-and-Such . . . and the widow who runs the chocolate shop that she took charge of after her husband died. Oh, what is her name? Um . . . Oh, heck, I'll just put her down as 'the chocolate widow' and figure it out later!"

And the record remained, for the amusement of those of us who like to poke around in dusty old documents.

1 comment:

Jillaine Smith said...

I couldn't resist. I googled the phrase and found the following:

* http://www.arcorcandy.us/delavitrdech.html

* http://www.tienda.com/food/products/co-24.html (read the history of the company; a widow *was* involved)