Theobroma means “food of the gods.” That’s why Alexa and I showed up. The goddesses were hungry for more heavenly fare. (No slight intended to Freedom’s lobster tail and filet mignon.) The Cacao tree is an evergreen producing beans all year round.
The flowers are pollinated by bees, butterflies, and moths. Three young beans are near the trunk while larger beans hang from the branches. Inside the bean are 20 to 60 white, pulpy seeds. I ate one, and while it had the texture of an oyster or a phlegm ball from hell, it tasted like unsweet chocolate. The beans at this particular plantation are sun-dried.
(Note the tourist snapping a shot in the background. There were no less than 5 members on the cruise who were dead ringers for Santa Claus. Praise Allah they didn’t enter the hairy chest contest.)
Imagine if you left some Starbucks expresso beans in your pantry. Then you set a 50 lbs. bag of flour on the beans. If you ate the beans 6 months later, you’d know how these sun-dried beans taste. Dry, crumbly, unsweet, and chocolaty. The plantation kept an old-time cacao bean dryer on hand so tourists could see how it used to be done.
Disease killed off most of Costa Rica’s Cacao plantations several years ago. The crop is making a comeback. New farming methods include smaller acres of cacao surrounded by bananas and other crops to isolate potential epidemics. Phillipe who belonged to one of Costa Rica’s indigenous peoples made our chocolate.
Making chocolate requires brown sugar and powdered milk. (Powdered milk blends better.) Switzerland’s Linden Chocolate executives recently visited this plantation to watch Phillipe at work. The Swiss do not remove cocoa butter from the candy like American manufacturers. Americans sell off the cocoa butter to cosmetic companies and substitute unhealthy crap fat which is why European chocolate tastes better.
The indigenous people of Costa Rica ate cacao with peppers, but Europeans preferred it sweet. Cacao beans also served as currency until the 1840s.
Best chocolate I’ve ever had in my whole life!!!!