Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cuckoo for Cocoa Beans

Update: regarding yesterday’s post: Smells ® came out today and fixed my laptop. Woohoo! I asked the tech guy what kind of discount he got on Smells® computers and he said none. Can you believe that?!?

Ever since I read in the glossy touristy magazines that litter this island that a cocoa plantation exists – I wanted to go. I mean I had to go. Cocoa in some variation or another has been the entire basis of my palette’s happiness since the time I could remember. So last weekend Sarah and I took a bus to downtown, another bus to Soufriere, and a third bus to the Fond Doux Estate. It. Was. Magical.

We were given a tour by Omawale which means the first sun rises in African. Omawale is a 17 year old student who spends his summers doing odd jobs to pay tuition for schooling. He was a great tour guide of the plantation, and told us we could ask him anything we wanted to about the place. Boy did he regret that! This one ::points to myself:: had about 1,001 questions about shade growing, pests, cocoa, and the history of chocolate. I’m really glad the tour only consisted of Sarah, Omawale, and me because if there were a group of tourists they would have been rolling their eyes for sure. Sarah does a good impersonation of all the silly questions I asked.
However, we learned some fascinating stuff about cocoa beans. They’re grown all year round in St. Lucia because of the hospitable climate here. Plus they’re organically grown! Prince Charles even visited the plantation and toured it himself. (Very impressed.)

After they are harvested from their pods (see baby cocoa pod below) they are hulled and the cocoa beans sit in buckets and are left to ferment.

Once they have fermented the beans are put on these giant wooden slats to dry in the sun.

This is the best part! The dried beans are put in this giant chocolate bowl and someone on the plantation does a cocoa dance on top of them. It’s a special cocoa dance that is handed down from generation to generation. I asked Omawale to show us the cocoa dance, but he has not learned the dance yet. Some passing tourists heard me ask and then joined in and pleaded with Omawale to show us the dance. ::snickers:: Sadly, no dances were shown. IF only Chocolate Fountain would have been there... he would have dazzled us with dances for sure.

After the magic dance has taken place on the cocoa beans, the beans are placed again on a drying rack. The entire process takes about 3 months from start to finish. Some of the cocoa beans are sold to Hershey’s. Other beans stay here and are ground into what is known as cocoa tea. See Sarah enjoying her first cup of cocoa tea? You can almost taste it, it's so good!

Eat your heart out, chocolate aficionados! Or as I like to say: hellooooooo lover.


Debbie said...


Debbie said...

also, smells sucks. seriously.

Captain Judy said...

you should be Debbie. The cocoa tea was g.o.o.d. As I was on the tour I did think about how much you would've loved it!!!

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