Monday, November 12, 2012

Ambassador's wife is peeved

I nearly said she was pissed off... but "peeved" sounds better for the wife of an ambassador. Everybody has known, for ages, that the secret of the fairy-tale cocktail evenings at the embassy is their silver plates piled high with golden balls of Ferrero Rocher chocolates. In the diplomatic words of embassy people, Ferrero Rocher chocolate balls are a sign of good taste.

And what's upsetting the ambassador's wife? Well, the Italian Ferrero manufacturer has another famous product, Nutella, a chocolate-textured sandwich paste for kids, which is even more popular in France than the golden embassy balls. And French lawmakers and the media have been throwing Nutella into the proverbial fan over the last week, because it contains a high proportion of palm oil, now branded as a detrimental ingredient both from a health viewpoint and for ecological reasons.

Here's an image of the fruit of palm trees in Indonesia:

                                                  — photo ATAR/AFP

The production of these fruit has meant that vast zones of the tropical forest have been destroyed. And these forests have been the home of an endangered species: orangutans.

Over the coming week, French senators will be examining a project aimed at increasing the tax on palm oil from its current level of 98 euros a metric ton to around 400 euros. And the ensuing new revenue would be channeled to the French healthcare system. In the political arena, the project for this massive tax increase is commonly referred to as the Nutella amendment. Most people know by now, because of all the bad press, that Ferrero Rocher chocolate balls and Nutella are manufactured by the same company, Ferrero. So, it's only a matter of time before a smart-arse guest at an embassy party is going to bring up this subject, in the hope of gaining attention:
"Do you realize that the company that produces these delicious chocolate balls feeds French kids with a sandwich paste composed of 20 per cent of palm oil, which leads to obesity and the risk of cardiovascular problems? And the production of palm oil results in the massive destruction of tropical forests in countries such as Indonesia."
That sort of talk is fatal at embassy events. It's wet blanket stuff, which detracts from the glitter and glamor of a successful evening. And that's what pisses off the ambassador's wife.


Friday, 16 November 2012

The French Olympic swimmer Yannick Agnel has just broken the European 800 m freestyle record, which is not exactly the usual discipline of this specialist over the range of 100 m to 400 m. When a poolside official asked the jubilant swimmer to sign his doping test, Yannick explained: "I'm only doped on Nutella. So, you might make a note of that in your papers."

Those words are sure to enchant the ambassador's wife, and enable her to come out with witty repartee at her forthcoming parties.

My only regret is that popular Yannick has just dealt a shattering blow to the French combat against products containing palm oil.

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