Saturday, May 16, 2009

Mystery Bean

If you’ve ever seen the inside of a cocoa pod, you’d ask the same question I’ve been asking for days: How did someone think to turn those white, slimy seeds into a beloved beverage ingredient? I know chocolate is believed to have been first enjoyed by the Mayans and Aztecs, and that it was enjoyed as part of a spicy drink rather than a sweet one; but how how HOW did they think to roast and grind it?

Here in Uganda we grow chocolate. But the locals enjoy it by sucking the slightly sweet white slime off the seeds, which they later spit out. Shawn recently brought home several cocoa pods, and after cutting one open the “wrong” way, we gingerly stuck a couple seeds in our mouths. There wasn’t much to taste, really, and they felt like giant slimy jellybeans rolling in my mouth. I’d rather plant those little treasures than waste them like that again!

Shawn roasted the few that weren’t tried by interested passersby, and now I have fresh cocoa powder. But I’m not sure what to do with my two tablespoons worth. So it sits in a plastic bag on our table. It’s like a trophy, saying, “Look what I did!” yet containing no usefulness in itself. Was the time and effort worth it? Well, we experienced the mystery one of humanity’s ancient loves. And that counts for something. Three cheers for Chocolate—your hidden secrets make me love you even more!  

1 comment:

Crysti Landis said...

I love to read about the bizarre and amazing things you get to experience in Africa. But at the same time, I can't wait until you're back in the states so we can create adventure stories together (with Tara, of course)

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