The Oculus in New York

As a tribute to the 9/11 victims and what was formerly the World Trade Center, the city’s architects constructed the World Trade Center subway station, in addition to a brand new shopping center and what is being called the Oculus, a massive glass and steel structure that is intended to resemble “a bird flying from the hands of a child.” In its meaning, the structure is intended to symbolize and bring hope to the site of tragedy.

But because this is New York, there’s going to be shops and money-making businesses to flank these beautiful memorial structures. And so there is a massive retail space that’s part of the Oculus, where not only are there actual luxury brick and mortar shops, but also spaces in the middle of the Oculus that pop-up retailers can rent by the month. One of these vendors who will be at the Oculus until late spring will be No Chewing Allowed, a seasonal French truffle store that can usually be found temporarily at the holiday markets across the city around the Thanksgiving to New Year’s period. I have likely seen them at the Union Square Holiday Market every single year since I’ve moved to New York, no fail, and their samples are always a free treat at this market. You always know them because the person handling them out continuously repeats, “no chewing allowed!” The idea is that you’re supposed to let it melt in your mouth, otherwise you ruin the entire chocolate enjoyment experience. I already do this regardless when eating any chocolate unless it’s a cookie, so I wouldn’t do anything differently.

My cousin who lives in the Bay Area requested that I pick up a box for him because he’d tried these as a gift from his brother, and he and his wife were completely obsessed with them. While they are good, there’s nothing particularly amazing to them for me. They’re just like any other truffle, maybe a little softer. And it also bothers me that their second ingredient listed is palm oil. Am I mostly paying $22 per box for a bunch of palm oil? The label doesn’t even tell you the chocolate percentage!

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