This morning Linda and I joined friends, Sharon, Tracy, and Tracy's parents (visiting from Maryland) at the Chocolate Museum and Factory in Antigua to take a two-hour workshop on the history of chocolate and a chocolate making class. I was excited about taking the class because during my whole time here a couple of years ago, I never did take it. As is all of the history of this country, the story of chocolate, as we know it today, stems from the time of the Spanish conquest of Guatemala and their first introduction to chocolate, which was yet unknown to the European world.
The indigenous people of Guatemala, the Maya, had many uses for the cacao tree and its harvest. One use for the beans located inside a large pod that develops off the trunk and branches of the tree is as currency. Marisol, our guide and teacher, today indicated that in the 14th and 15th centuries, a Maya could purchase 6 tortillas for one cacao bean, for three beans a good amount of corn ready to grind for tortillas, etc. The cacao tree only grows in a band around the circumference of the globe from 17 degrees north of the Equator to 17 degrees south, where most of Earth's warmest and dampest climate is located; it cannot be grown anywhere else on Earth.
Guatemala is known, not only for its cacao agriculture, but also for its chocolate production and candy making. See ChocoMuseo located in the heart of the city of Antigua.
|Marisol starts the workshop by explaining exactly how we get|
from the cacao bean to the finished chocolate. I'll add
here that this young lady spoke English very well, a real bonus for
employment in Antigua.
|Marisa showed us how to cool and mix the|
hot chocolate drink. It's not as easy as it
looks to accomplish
|Here's Linda mixing a chocolate drink|
using a primitive wooden stirring stick, the
name of which escapes me!
|Then I had my turn.|
After the class, since we'd worked up quite an appetite, our group of six sauntered over to one of my favorite any-time restaurants, Sabe Rico (Delicious Flavor), for a lovely lunch out in the beautiful garden setting, complete with songbirds chirping away in cages hanging in the trees.
|They have a wonderful delicatessen, gourmet groceries, chocolate shop and|
bakery in addition to the restaurant
|Gorgeous outdoor dining rooms|
|Even a hammock if one needs it after a meal!|