Apparently chocolate consumption is way up, so I thought it was a perfect time to share more about its wonderfulness.
Chocolate challenge: Where in the USA do you think Cacao grows? (Hint, there are 6 answers, think broadly).
Whoever guesses correctly first, will get a bar of craft chocolate from one of my favorite US makers.
Chocolate is made from Cacao (Theobroma Cacao), AKA Food of the Gods, AKA Cocoa.
Cacao is a tree fruit and gets its start as beans from a pod. Like coffee, it only grows in a very limited area 20° North and South of the equator from the Tropic of Cancer to the Tropic of Capricorn, known as the Cocoa Belt.
How it got from milky white, goopy beans to chocolate as we know it is quite a miracle. The beans are harvested, fermented, dried, roasted, winnowed, conched and finally tempered. Tempering is what gives chocolate the shiny look and snap sound when you break into one.
Interesting tidbit I learned when I was on the island of St. Lucia at Boucan, the Hotel Chocolat plantation — because cacao flowers are very tiny and have no smell, they are pollinated by ants and very small flies instead of bees.