Recently, a friend of mine passed an unmarked brown paper bag to me during a walk through a crowded Los Angeles farmers market. Passersby eddied around us; the traffic cop stationed in front of the alley conducted her street orchestra. We were so busy looking at the fruit-laden stalls that we didn’t say anything or even look at each other during the exchange. I felt like Kim Philby. No, there were no Soviet documents inside (sadly). Instead, nestled in amongst a bit of tissue paper was a hastily scrawled note and a jar of Nutella that a friend of a friend had brought back from Spain. Sorry, smuggled back from Spain. It was all terribly clandestine.
I’ve been collecting jars of Nutella for years, although I don’t know if you can call it collecting when you just eat the contents of each jar one after the other. Since I wrote about making my own Nutella for the LAT, I really have been collecting the stuff. So far I’ve acquired jars of Nutella made in Germany, Italy, Canada and Poland–now add Spain to the list–in order to see if the Nutella inside tastes any different.
It does, actually. Although the folks at Ferrero wouldn’t admit anything (and I mean anything; after I interviewed one regional manager, he emailed me back requesting that I take everything he said to me off the record, like you can do that, which was really very funny as he hadn’t answered any of my questions in the first place), there is a pretty clear consensus that Nutella is made slightly differently according to country of manufacture. For the record, European Nutella is slightly less sweet, is a tiny bit firmer in texture, and seems to have a better aftertaste. To quote Nabokov, I [always] wanted to be a famous spy.
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