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Theobroma Cacao Beans

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.

Cacao Tree Originated in the Amazon

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.

Sun-dried Cacao Beans

(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.

Old School Willie Wonka a la Costa Rica

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.

Phillipe makes 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.

Phillipe strikes a pose.

The indigenous people of Costa Rica ate cacao with peppers, but Europeans preferred it sweet.  Cacao beans also served as currency until the 1840s.

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Best chocolate I’ve ever had in my whole life!!!!

I love chocolate. 🙂

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12 thoughts on “Like Anything for Chocolate…

    • 😆 Butt it’s healthy chocolate! 😆

      We bought a brick after tasting all the freebies we could eat. Our hands were dripping with oil after indulging. Our tour guide saw us all jonesing for a paper towel, and that was his cue to tell us it was pure cocoa butter on our hands. He said, “Just rub it all over over your skin. It’s a natural bug repellent!”

      We didn’t bring any home because of the hassle we’d get at customs.

        • If I’d had 15 pounds, I’d have eaten it. It was so good. I might have to go out tomorrow and get some Swiss chocolate just so I can half-way taste the good stuff!

  1. Remember, the first one’s free! I get this vision of you trying to smuggle a brick into the US and some guy at fatherland security finding it and saying “Yea, it’s the pure stuff. Book her”. Cacao, coca, whatever! Close enough.

    • i picture her in her stateroom, frantically grabbing the rolling papers, trying to make as many chocolate cigarettes as she can before the boat docks.

      remember chocolate ciggies? i used to love them! they were much better than those sweet white candy ciggies that you had to break apart (they never broke right) and that had the fake pink flame at the end of them.

      • See, Nonnie! I didn’t think to roll chocolate cigarettes because I’m not a genius. 😀

        I used to LOVE those things and I liked the chalky ones because you could pretend to blow smoke.

        • the chocolate ones were delicious. now that i think about it, there were actually 2 different kinds of the white ones. there were the solid ones and the ones that were hollow in the middle. the hollow ones were fun, because you could inhale, but they tasted crappy and fell apart when the spit got to them. the solid ones, on the other hand, tasted better, and if you twirled them in your mouth, you could make them into pointy, if sticky, weapons.

  2. Never seen choco cigs, only they chalky ones. We felt all grown up! But alas, down south this time of year, you can’t make it home from the store without it going all gooey. Now bubblegum cigars, that was my forte…

    • I liked pixie sticks, too, though I’d about choke to death on the dry koolaid cloud that invariably formed in the back of my throat while downing those bad boys. 😀

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