Bean to Bar: Learn How Belize Chocolates are Made
Every time you eat great chocolate, does it feel like a religious experience? That deep, rich texture. The way it slides down your throat, silky and yummy. Heaven. That’s why the Mayas, who are responsible for giving the world this amazing treat, called it the food of the gods, say scholars at Cornell University.
Cultivation of beans inside cocoa pods once harvested as long ago as 900 AD were made into liquid by crushing beans with water and chili peppers. Since there was no sugar in Mesoamerica, the recipe for “xocolatl” included chili and water, which is why the word chocolate translates as bitter water!
How revered was chocolate by Maya society? It was served at weddings, ceremonies and depicted in glyphs. Artisans crafted ceremonial cups just for serving liquid chocolate. These beans were so valuable, indigenous peoples built commercial systems on them! Beans were used to pay taxes, buy goods and by the time Aztecs conquered the Mayas, they were so jealous of their ability to grow beans (Aztecs never got the hang of it!), they cheated by making counterfeit beans, say historians at Godiva.
If your appetite is whetted and you have decided that it’s important to your palate and your need for relaxation to travel to Chocolate Mecca–Belize–you must include a chocolate tour on your itinerary. Where better to enjoy the full experience than in the land of the Mayas where you’ll be expertly guided by Barefoot Rentals and Services professionals?
The tour itself is a sweet treat: You’ll start at the root of all chocolate production (the cacao tree) and take part in the process that starts with harvested, crushed beans and winds up in your hands as a Maya chocolate bar. Yes, sugar will be added, but otherwise, the process in which you take part is authentic.
While at the organic cacao farm hosting your visit, you’ll meet the farmer in charge. He is happy to answer questions, whether they concern the history, processing or folklore surrounding chocolate. You’ll examine the trees and pods that bring forth the beans, grind them on a stone and hold the chocolate bar you made in your hands. You wouldn’t be the first visitor to be is such awe of your handiwork, you don’t eat it!
Once upon a time, the exchange rate was 10 beans for a rabbit and 4 beans for a pumpkin. But sadly, your vacation in Belize can’t be underwritten by beans, so bring dollars to cover your lodgings, meals and your chocolate tour. Low season is just beginning so you’ll save plenty if you make plans to get your chocolate travel fix now!