While the notes of tangy and spicy chocolate are still fresh on my unsuspecting pallet I felt the need to share the experience of the 2016 Grenada Chocolate Fest so far.
We began this rainy day (the type where you seriously consider just staying in bed) with a Yoga Chocolate meditation with local yoga teacher: Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe. Have you ever thought of chocolate as a metaphor for self acceptance and a consciousness that we are always in the process of becoming? After a gentle yoga practice, the process of preparing ourselves to meditate on cocoa and chocolate in its various stages and forms, we settled down to the meditation.
First, the slimy tangy, cocoa bean fresh from the pod: we sucked on it, eyes closed and minds eager. Who knew that chocolate had such fruity origins? Next the nibs. In the process of making chocolate the fruity raw bean is first fermented, then dried, roasted, cracked and winnowed. The centre of a roasted cracked cocoa bean reveals the nib. The flavour of the nib starts to resemble what one expects of chocolate. It has hints of a liquor flavour, no wonder 100% chocolate is actually called liquor, the fermentation process can still be tasted.
Last, the pierce de resistance, the highly anticipated Grenada Chocolate bar, chocolate in its most refined form. I put the piece on my tongue, letting is slowly melt, just before it hit liquid I pushed it against the back of my teeth and ran my tongue against it. Mmmm, luxurious cocoa butter can be detected amongst the notes of that fruity yet smooth 60% chocolate bar.
Chocolate,Yoga and Meditation are a delicious combination! As Malaika so wisely repeated from last nights Grand Opening:
” A balanced diet is a bar of chocolate in both hands”.
After such an amazing experience we learned about the healthy benefits of Chocolate from Mexican Chocolatier and owner of Mucho Chocolate museum in Mexico City Ana Rita Garcia Lascurain. We made an exfoliating body scrub using roasted cocoa ground on a metate, melted cocoa butter, sugar and olive oil. The grainy potion left our skin feeling smooth and smelling delicious. Next we experimented with making our very own cocoa lip balm using Jouvay chocolate powder, melted cocoa butter and vitamin e oil.
Ana Rita explained that chocolate has been used around the world throughout the centuries for many different reasons. Over the years the wisdom has been spread that chocolate is not just a treat but also valuable medicine with a plethora of health benefits. Cocoa has been used for the many stages of a life, it has been used to cure, celebrate and even mourn.
When we use chocolate to make topical potions for the skin its beneficial properties also soak into our bodies and work their magic there. Chocolate is good for the heart, brain and even the libido! It helps with digestion because of its complexity and it even helps with childbirth. Chocolate has sadly gotten a bad rap as being unhealthy, a sinful treat that will make us fat and rotten our teeth. This myth was shattered this morning at the “Healthy Benefits of Chocolate Workshop”.
According to Ana Rita
“It is not a sin, it is actually good for your body”
Part of what gives chocolate the reputation of being such a sinful treat is the high sugar content in most mass produced bars. When you step away from the candy aisle near the check out counter, away from the Mars Bars, Butterfinger bars and the Milky Way and delve into the sophisticated dark chocolate world you will find that there is a whole universe of flavour other than the milky sugary treat we grew up with.
On a more holistic note, here is another beautiful nugget of wisdom from Ana Rita:
“When you eat chocolate you are connecting to the complexity of nature”
Towards the end of the workshop we tasted some 60% dark Chocolate from the Grenada Chocolate Company and the Spice Island Bar from Rococo Chocolates. When you let these fine single origin chocolates melt on your tounge you can taste a piece of the landscape from which the beans used to make the bar originated.
We are surely excited for the next week of Chocolate inspired activities! Next we head up to Balthazar, St. Andrew for a special chocolate hash through the cocoa groves. Try to count how many different beautiful hues of cocoa pods you can find.
Have you been enjoying the festival thus far? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for more chocolate festival goodness. If you are right here in beautiful Grenada with us use the hashtag #GrenadaChocolateFest2016 and tag us so we can see just how much of a good time you are having!